The Alabama Supreme Court issued an opinion last month, in a case of first impression, that dealt with a misfilled prescription. The Plaintiff in the case before the court, Michelle Morgan, went to the pharmacy at a Publix store to refill her prescription for amlodipine, a medication used to treat hypertension. The refill, however, contained a mixture of her medication and another drug contained in similar pills. Ms. Morgan experienced physical problems, including swelling of her face, hives, painful scales and hyperpigmentation around her mouth and eyelids. About two weeks after the prescription was filled, an employee of the pharmacy informed Ms. Morgan that her last refill had been partially filled with another medication.
Ms. Morgan sued Publix Super Mar¬kets, Inc. Publix moved for summary judgment, arguing that Morgan could not meet her burden of proof under the Alabama Medical Liability Act (AMLA) because she had not identified any expert qualified to testify that the Publix pharmacist breached the applicable standard of care. Ms. Mor¬gan argued that Publix’s negligence was so apparent that a layperson could understand it without the assistance of expert testimony. The trial court granted the motion, and Morgan appealed.
The Supreme Court reversed and sent the case back to the trial court. The Court stated in the opinion that any person who has ever had a prescription filled has a general understanding that the law requires that certain medications be dispensed by licensed pharmacists. The Court held that “it is unnecessary for a Plaintiff prosecuting an AMLA claim based on a pharmacy’s filling his or her prescription with the incorrect medication to put forth expert testimony establishing the standard of care and a breach thereof because the want of skill or lack of care in incorrectly filling a prescription is so apparent as to be within the comprehension of the aver¬age layperson without the assistance of expert testimony.” The case is Morgan v. Publix Super Markets, Inc.
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