Malpractice Action Against Pharmacy Dismissed; Applicable Standard of Care and Insufficiency of Expert Affidavit Explained
In affirming the dismissal of a malpractice complaint against a pharmacy (Rite Aid) for failure to state a cause of action, the Fourth Department explained the standard of care imposed upon a pharmacy and the necessary contents of an expert affidavit alleging the profession has established a different standard of care:
With respect to the sufficiency of the complaint before us, we note that in New York “ ‘[t]he standard of care which is imposed on a pharmacist is generally described as ordinary care in the conduct of his [or her] business. The rule of ordinary care as applied to the business of a druggist means the highest practicable degree of prudence, thoughtfulness and vigilance commensurate with the dangers involved and the consequences which may attend inattention’ ” … . “Generally, a pharmacist cannot be held liable for negligence in the absence of an allegation that he or she failed to fill a prescription precisely as directed by the physician or was aware that the customer had a condition that would render the prescription of the drug at issue contraindicated” … . Here, because plaintiff failed to allege that the dosage “fell below or exceeded the medically acceptable range of dosages that should be provided under any circumstance” …, that Rite Aid did not follow the prescribing physician’s directions, or that Rite Aid was aware that the drug was contraindicated for plaintiff, the court properly concluded that the complaint fails to state a cause of action for negligence on the part of Rite Aid … .
Contrary to plaintiff’s further contention, she failed to establish through an expert’s affidavit that the pharmacy profession itself has created a different standard of care from that set forth herein. In support of that contention, plaintiff submitted the affidavit of a pharmacist who opined that “[t]he dose [of prednisone prescribed for plaintiff] triggers the need to contact the prescribing physician to double check the dosage and to notify the patient of the very high dose and risks associated with that dose.” “ ‘[O]rdinarily, the opinion of a qualified expert that a plaintiff’s injuries were caused by a deviation from relevant industry standards would’ [be sufficient to allege a violation of a professional standard of care] .
. . Where the expert’s ultimate assertions are speculative or unsupported by any evidentiary foundation, however, the opinion should be given no probative force and is insufficient to” establish a violation of a standard of care … . Thus, an expert’s affidavit is insufficient to establish that a standard of care exists where it is “devoid of any reference to a foundational scientific basis for its conclusions” … . Here, the expert cites no industry standard, treatise or other authority in support of his opinion regarding the standard of care …, and plaintiff therefore failed to establish that the pharmacy profession itself imposes a different standard of care from that set forth in the applicable case law. Burton v Sciano, et al, 837, 4th Dept 10-4-13