Recent studies have suggested that up to five percent of all prescriptions filled in hospitals contain errors. Medical commentators have expressed concern that this figure may be even higher for outpatient prescription. As a result of medication errors, patients suffer uncomfortable and even traumatic results in the form of “adverse drug events,” while the health care system incurs needless costs. These adverse drug events are normally preventable, and are considered to be a current problem by hospital administrators and doctors alike. Now, courts are beginning to recognize the problem, and have suggested a solution by adopting a heightened standard of care for pharmacists. In that respect, courts have begun to recognize that pharmacists are the last chance that the system has to correct itself, and that pharmacists are experts in pharmaceutical science and should be treated as professionals. Courts have not always treated pharmacists as professionals. Instead, pharmacists have traditionally been viewed as “order fillers” for the true professionals: the prescribing physicians. Until recently, Missouri adhered to that traditional view, requiring only that Missouri’s pharmacists fill prescriptions accurately. Recently, however, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District of Missouri recognized that pharmacists are professionals in their own right, and should be held to a higher standard. In Horner v. Spalitto, the court state that pharmacists must act as would a reasonable pharmacist in the same or similar circumstances, a duty that may require more of them than correctly filling orders. The implication for Missouri pharmacists is not only an expanded duty of care, but also a recognition of their professional status and place in Missouri’s health care system.

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