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Medication/Prescription Errors

Medication and prescription errors occur in many different situations. In some cases, a doctor will prescribe the wrong dosage of medication appropriate for the patient’s illness. In others, a medical assistant, while tending to a patient in the hospital, may administer the dosage incorrectly. Errors can occur if the pharmacist misreads the prescription and gives the wrong medication or an incorrect dosage.

A medication or prescription error can harm a patient by not properly treating the patient’s condition, through negative side effects, and even by causing allergic reactions. With thousands of medications at healthcare professionals’ disposal, it’s critical that healthcare professionals prevent medication and prescription errors – especially when the difference between a single decimal point in dosage can sometimes mean the difference between recovery and death. Contact us today if you, or a loved one, has been affected by a medication error.

Determining Liability

Many people are potentially liable when a medication or prescription error occurs. Depending on the exact error, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, physicians, and even the pharmaceutical manufacturer may all be liable.

Administration and Dosage Errors

If a healthcare professional administers the wrong medication or dosage, they can be liable. The incorrect medication choice can make a world of difference for patients trying to recover. If a doctor prescribes the correct medication and a nurse administers a different one, the nurse would be liable for negligence.

Sometimes errors occur whenever medical staff administers medications incorrectly, such as injecting a medication into the wrong part of the body. It is also possible to file a claim against a doctor if his or her poor handwriting caused a patient to receive the wrong medication from a pharmacy (though most doctors today use electronic prescriptions to prevent this problem).

Mislabeling Errors

Both pharmacy staff and manufacturers may mislabel medications, resulting in patients receiving incorrect dosage information. If the error is the fault of the manufacturer, the case could result in a product liability suit; however, when the error is the result of the pharmacy, it could be a case of medical malpractice.

Harmful Medication Errors

One of the reasons that doctors collect patients’ allergy information is because many medications can cause allergic reactions. Both your pharmacist and your doctor should have up-to-date allergy information to prevent prescribing any harmful medications. Likewise, many medications can cause negative reactions if taken together.

If a doctor or pharmacist mistakenly prescribes a potentially harmful medication because they did not take sufficient care to determine your allergy or medication status, then that individual may be liable. However, if you do not openly share information regarding your allergy or medication status with your doctor or pharmacist, they may not be liable for any result that may occur.

Side Effect Errors

Doctors who prescribe a medication and the pharmacists who fill the prescription have a duty to tell patients about the potential side effects of medicines, as well as any actions they may need to take for the medication to be effective. For example, some medications do not work properly if a person eats certain foods while taking them. A patient cannot claim a medication error if he or she does not abide by medical professionals’ instructions.

When an Error Becomes Medical Malpractice

In addition to a medical professional’s error while administering or prescribing medication, that error must also cause harm to the patient to be medical malpractice. Although a mistake may have been made, if it doesn’t cause any harm to the patient, there is no medical malpractice.

When a patient is already in the hospital, it can be difficult to determine if the patient’s harm came from a medication error or is a result of their already poor condition. With so many parties potentially liable in medication and prescription errors, determining who is responsible can also be a tricky process.

If you believe you or a loved one has suffered harm due to a medication or prescription error, contact our skilled team of medical malpractice lawyers today. We have successfully concluded hundreds of cases in the past five years. Let us do the same for you.