When prescribed correctly, and taken as directed, prescription and over-the-counter medication can be very effective at alleviating pain, getting rid of an infection, regulating hypertension and high blood pressure, and fighting life-threatening diseases. But when a medical professional prescribes the wrong medication, or an incorrect dosage amount, it can put patient in serious danger.
There are several types of prescription drug errors, including the ones listed below:
- Administering the wrong medication – This can happen if the pharmacists misreads the doctor’s handwriting, or if the doctor simply prescribes the wrong medication
- Administering a dosage that is either too much or too little of the medication – An example of this is if a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist misses or transposes a decimal point, the patient could end up taking far too much or not nearly enough medication.
- Mislabeling the medication – This can happen at the manufacturer or at the pharmacy. However, if the error happened at the manufacturer, it would be a products liability lawsuit.
- Prescribing a medication that the patient is allergic to, which can lead to anaphylaxis if the reaction is extreme – In most cases, this type of medication error is the fault of the pharmacist, whose job it is to keep track of patients’ allergies.
- Prescribing a medication without considering the other medication a patient is taking – Drug interactions can have very serious consequences. Your doctor or pharmacist should be aware of all medications you are on so they can help you avoid dangerous interactions.
- Failing to inform the patient of the medication’s side effects – Your doctor, nurse, and pharmacist should warn you of potential side effects, as well as how to properly take the medication. For example, some drugs should be taken on an empty stomach. Others do not work properly if taken with certain foods. Always inquire about side effects and how the drug should be taken.
Who is Liable for Medication Errors?
Unfortunately, medication errors do occur, and the consequences can range from a mild allergic reaction to wrongful death. In order to prove that the person who prescribed the medication did in fact make an error, you will need to prove that your health care professional did not provide the level of care that another, equally qualified health care professional would have provided in a similar circumstance. You will also need to prove that the delivery of the poor level of care was the cause of your illness or injury. It is wise to discuss your case with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer who can help navigate the complex process and build a strong case.
When it comes to liability, there are a number of factors that need to be considered.
- Patient Compliance: Oftentimes, injuries or deaths that were attributed to medication errors are later determined to be an issue of patient compliance. Patients often ignore doctors’ orders and fail to take the prescribed medication, or they skip doses. If this ends up being the case, it is unlikely that the patient will recover damages for medication error.
- Determining the exact cause of the injury. This is key in determining liability. For example, if a nurse administered a drug improperly, but it was prescribed correctly by the doctor, the hospital may be held liable, but not the doctor or the pharmacist who filled the prescription.
Determining liability in a medication error case can be an extremely time consuming process. To build a strong case, it will be necessary to collect medical records, pharmacy records, and nurse’s charts. You will also need to call on witnesses to provide testimonies for depositions. Medical providers will often offer to settle cases if it becomes clear that the healthcare professional is responsible for the error.
South Jersey Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Folkman Law Offices, P.C. Represent Victims of Medication Errors
If you or a loved one has been injured or became ill as a result of a medication error, you may be eligible for compensation. The South Jersey medical malpractice lawyers at Folkman Law have a proven track record of successfully representing patients who have been the victim of medication errors. For a free telephone consultation, call 856-354-9444 or contact us online. Our offices are conveniently located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where we represent clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.