The facts of the case were clear. The doctor administered 6 mg of hydro- morphone to the patient in the hospital for pain and gave him a prescription for 8 mg of the substance to be taken later at home. The prescription was filled at CVS in Hicksville. Within an hour or two after taking the drug, the patient was dead.
CVS moved for SJ contending that the pharmacist had no duty to warn or take any steps other than fill the prescription as written. The responsibility was solely the physician's. You see, under the "learned intermediary" doctrine, it's the physician who's supposed to know better, not the patient or the pharmacist. All the pharmacist needs is "technical accuracy" in filling the order, unless the drug is "clearly contraindicated". In this state, CVS argued, a pharmacist has no duty to warn the patient or even contact the prescribing physician to inquire. While this was basically true, the Court held, a pharmacist could be held liable "under certain circumstances", such as when the pharmacy's records indicate a contraindication.
Plaintiff's expert said that an 8 mg dosage of hydromorphone should only have been dispensed to a patient who has built up tolerance to the drug from long-term exposure. This patient had none, but there was no evidence in the record of this CVS to show that it knew that. So, the Court rejects the expert's opinion as unsupported by the record. There is no question of fact and SJ is affirmed.
The "standard of care" then, at your local pharmacy anyway, is akin to that of your local diner. In the diner, however, when they louse up your eggs, at least you live long enough to send them back.