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Pregnancy Medication Error by Pharmacy

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When a pregnant woman experienced days of vomiting and ended up in hospital because of a medication error by a pharmacist from a well-known national chain of chemists our medication error lawyers were able to help make a claim.

Our client thankfully went on to have a healthy baby, but endured months of anxiousness and the whole experience made the rest of her pregnancy a worry.

Medication Error Case

In this case our client approached Pearson because our medical negligence solicitors have legal experience in handling dispensing and medication error claims.

Our client is usually generally fit and well, however she did suffer from hyperemesis during pregnancy, for which she has been prescribed Cyclizine to take through the first and part of the second trimester.

As a second-time mum she was well aware of the condition and how to manage it and was able to plan for her second pregnancy.

Sickness during pregnancy

Whilst sickness in pregnancy, often known as morning sickness, can be common for many women hyperemesis is much more severe and needs careful management.  Expectant mums can experience very bad nausea and vomiting which can have an impact on their daily life.

When taking Cyclizine her hyperemesis is well controlled and she had no issues with her first pregnancy.

Our client attended a GP appointment for pregnancy related sickness at her local surgery and was prescribed Cyclizine 50mg tablets to be taken 3 times a day (every 8 hours). This prescription was collected from Lloyds Pharmacy, Riversdale House, Bridgend, and she started taking the medication that evening. The medication worked extremely quickly as the following day she was well enough to attend a family wedding.

However, on a later visit to the same Lloyds Pharmacy, she was given a plain white box of tablets that had a label on the front which clearly stated ‘60 Cyclizine 50mg tablets’.   She took the tablets as usual but later began to suffer from extreme sickness, abdominal pain, severe headaches and dizziness. She was unable to keep any food or fluids down.

For the next couple of days she continued to vomit more than 100 times and could not understand why her anti-sickness medication was not working. She tried eating food that usually helped to alleviate sickness however nothing worked and she was becoming increasingly concerned about the welfare of her unborn child.

Her inability to keep food down led to dehydration and she fainted.  When she later checked her medication to her horror she discovered she had been given the wrong tablets by the pharmacist and was in fact taking a medication called Colchicine, used to treat gout and to add to her distress Colchicine was not to be taken in pregnancy.

Medication Error Settlement

Our medication error lawyers negotiated an out of court settlement for the client and Lloyds Pharmacy apologised for the dispensing error.

Our client was very concerned by the mistake and contacted her midwife to discuss having taken Colchicine, as it was clearly stated on the information leaflet as not suitable for use in pregnancy.  She was advised to go to A&E as soon as possible, an ultrasound appointment was also made for the following week to check the viability of the pregnancy.

The hospital found our client to be dehydrated, with an increased heart rate and low blood pressure. A cannula was inserted, and she was given two bags of IV saline and her usual anti-sickness medication Cyclizine. She was then sent home to rest but was understandably anxious about her unborn baby.

Thankfully a follow-up scan showed no obvious damage to the foetus and her later 20 week anomaly scan went well.

She continued to take Cyclizine tablets every 8 hours as per her prescription and started to decrease the dose from approximately 20 weeks gestation.

“In this case, there was a breach of duty of care as no reasonable and responsible pharmacist would have approved of the dispensing of 60 500mcg Colchicine tablets instead of 60 50mg Cyclizine tablets and the medication should have been double checked before being issued,” said Gemma Miller, Paralegal in the Medical Negligence department at Pearson Solicitors.

“As a result of taking the incorrectly dispensed tablets our client experienced avoidable symptoms, and her settlement reflects this, as well as the fact that she was unable to work during this period and needed extra care for her daughter,” added Gemma.

Symptoms suffered due to the medication error included:

  • Extreme vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Severe headache
  • Dizziness
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Generally feeling unwell
  • Dehydration
  • Fainting
  • Admission to hospital
  • Hypotension
  • Anxiety
  • Fear of harm to the unborn baby

What are LASA Errors?

LASA dispensing errors are the most common cause of medication errors by a pharmacy and commonly occur during the dispensing process because the medicines' Look-Alike and Sound-Alike (LASA).

“We quite frequently see chemists and pharmacists giving out the wrong medication and always advise people to check and double check the contents and labelling before taking any prescription that may look or sound like another form of medication,” added Gemma Miller.

“In this case our client had a worrisome pregnancy as sometimes taking the wrong medication through no fault of your own can lead to quite serious side effects, thankfully in her case everything was ok.”

How can we help?

Clients come to Pearson Solicitors from all over the UK when they or a loved one have suffered side effects as a result of taking the wrong medication or the incorrect dosage has been prescribed.

For legal advice on dispensing or medication errors made by a pharmacy or a GP contact our Medication Error Lawyers on 0161 785 3500 or

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

Written by Gemma Miller


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