Visitor Question

Falsely Imprisoned Due to Prescription Mistake…

Submitted By: Anonymous (USA)

I went to my local ER for very bad ongoing headache. Upon being discharged I was given discharge papers and my script. Contained in my discharge papers was the medication I was to start taking which was tylenol with codiene. After leaving the hospital I headed to my local pharmacy. I gave them my script and in about 30 minutes the pharmacist called the cops.

Long story short the discharging nurse gave me a copy of my script instead of the original. And it was one of those computer generated with bar codes. The pharmacist told the cop that the “DEA” number didn’t match the physician signature and that it was a copy. The cop put in the police report that the ER verified I was at the ER all day, but never tried to speak with the prescribing doctor.

I pleaded with them to call and they told me nobody was there and that they had gone home. Mind you the pharmacist never said one word to me and I have standing meds at this pharmacy.

The problem is I was arrested, spent 2 nights in jail and am now being charged with obtaining dangerous drugs by forgery or fraud. Upon being bailed out of jail I went the ER the next day to inform them of the mistake. They immediately whisked me over to risk management who started investigating. I also hired a lawyer.

The hospital is putting documents together to clear charges, but nothing has happened as of yet. Also, the cop searched my vehicle and saw the discharge papers with my information and the directive to start taking tylenol with codiene.

This means I had proof I was supposed to have the meds with codiene. And if the script was a copy of the original then the cop lied about the DEA number. He stated I never presented discharge papers and signature matching to obtain a warrant.

My question to you is, do you think I can sue all 3, the cops, pharmacist and hospital? I was falsely imprisoned and now it’s costing me a lot of money to hire a lawyer to defend myself. (My lawyer is just handling the criminal part right now.) I’d just like your opinion on what my options are. Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Anonymous,

If you already have an attorney she has probably already answered the criminal law questions for you. Our policy is not to interfere in the attorney-client relationship. Doing so would be legally inappropriate.

We can though discuss the civil matters…

Separate from the criminal case you may have a civil case against the pharmacy and the hospital. You don’t have a case against the police.

The police are protected by a legal theory called “Sovereign Immunity”. Sovereign immunity means a person cannot successfully prevail in a lawsuit against a governmental law enforcement agency unless the law enforcment agent’s actions were malicious or criminally negligent.

Sovereign immunity exists to protect the police and the public. Let’s look at an example…

Let’s say you or a loved one were being assaulted by a third party.

The police were called and they responded. When they arrived they saw the person who was apparently committing an assault pull out a gun and point it.

At that time though the police officer wasn’t sure whether the person with the gun was really going to use the gun, or if he was just saying he was going to use it to scare or threaten.

The officer saw the man raise the gun to shoot you or a loved one and then instead of firing at the assailant to stop him from killing you, the police officer hesitated because he worried that if he shot the assailant, the assailant or his family might sue him. As soon as the police officer hesitated the assailant fired the gun seriously wounding or killing you or a loved one.

That’s the reason sovereign immunity exists. It exists because it protects the police officer from worrying about being sued in situations where he is supposed to be doing his duty. The same theory of sovereign immunity applies in your case.

That leaves you with the hospital and the pharmacy. You may have a better chance of prevailing in a civil suit against the pharmacy because it appears from your facts the pharmacist acted negligently.

You may have less of a chance against the hospital or nurse. Although the nurse may have given you a copy instead of the original, there isn’t any evidence her doing so would have resulted in an arrest.

In that case the burden falls to the pharmacist.

Learn more here: Medication Errors

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,


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