Mich. SC: Bring no med-mal claims against pharmacies

John O'Brien Jun. 12, 2008, 1:00pm


LANSING, Mich. (Legal Newsline) - Pharmacies can not be sued for medical malpractice, the Michigan Supreme Court decided Thursday.

Affirming a Court of Appeals ruling, the Justices decided that Judith Kuznar's gripe with Crown Pharmacy was subject to a three-year statute of limitations, not the two-year period allowed for medical malpractice claims.

Kuznar's case, which alleges a non-pharmacist incorrectly refilled her prescription for Mirapex, will be remanded and continue.

"(A) pharmacy is not a licensed health facility or agency," Justice Marilyn Kelly wrote. "In addition, we conclude that a pharmacy is not a licensed health-care professional.

"We hold, therefore, that a pharmacy cannot be directly liable for medical malpractice. But it can be directly liable for ordinary negligence for operating without having a licensed pharmacist on site and for
allowing a non-pharmacist to dispense medications.

"Hence, plaintiffs' claims of direct negligence on the part of the pharmacy are timely under the three-year period of limitations for ordinary negligence."

Kuznar filed her suit in Oct. 2003, almost three years after she was given a dosage eight times stronger than the prescription. Crown countered that the statute had expired on such a claim because it was a medical malpractice issue.

After the trial judge sided with the plaintiffs, the Court of Appeals ruled pharmacies aren't licensed health care facilities subject to med-mal claims, though pharmacists are.

"A pharmacy is neither a licensed health facility or agency nor a licensed health-care professional and cannot be directly liable for medical malpractice," Kelly wrote. "Hence, under the law, Crown Pharmacy was incapable of committing medical malpractice."

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien via e-mail at john@legalnewsline.com.

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