Prescription Drug Errors as Medical Malpractice
Prescription drug errors? Can they be the basis for a medical malpractice case?
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional neglects and/or deviates from set standards of care and causes harm to the person they are supposed to be caring for.
These errors are a violation of the Hippocratic Oath, which is a promise physicians make to uphold specific ethical standards and to “first, do no harm.” Medical malpractice can result in serious injury to the patient and in the most severe cases, death.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), medication errors injure about 1.3 million people each year in the U.S.
As a Chicago medical malpractice law firm, we know that prescription drug errors occur in many ways, from the initial prescription to the administration of the drug. A patient may be harmed if the doctor prescribes the wrong medication
Another example is that the patient could be hurt by the medication the doctor has prescribed to treat a misdiagnosed condition. In a hospital setting, it’s possible a prescribed medication may be given to the wrong patient.
Knowing you’ve been a victim is not always obvious, which is why you should contact a Chicago medical malpractice law firm for help. Here are the common prescription drug errors made by physicians.
Common pharmacy mistakes
In the modern health care system, there are a number of things that can go wrong that could lead to a pharmacist being held liable for medical malpractice.
- Administering The Wrong Medication Or Wrong Dosage
Physicians and nurses can be held liable for prescribing the wrong medication or a medication in the wrong dosage. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to prescribe a medication in the wrong dosage, as prescriptions are compounded with the utmost precision.
Research indicates that about 10% of prescriptions are filled in error and this mistake is simply unacceptable. Should just one decimal point be out of a place, a patient could be administered far too much or too little of his or her required medication.
According to a study done by the FDA, administering the wrong dosage of medicine accounted for 41% of fatal medication errors. Medication administration is a complex multistep process from prescribing to administering drugs and monitoring patient response.
Some medicines have specific ways they need to be administered and if this is done incorrectly by a medical professional, they will be held legally responsible by a Chicago medical malpractice law firm.
Whether dispensing the wrong medication entirely or dispensing the wrong strength of the proper medication, any pharmacist who deviates from the physician’s instructions and gives out the wrong medication is almost always going to be found negligent.
- Mislabeling Medication
Mislabeling medications does happen and ends up resulting in the patient receiving medicine that is not intended for them. Depending on where in the production process the medication mislabeling occurs, it could turn into a medical malpractice case or products liability lawsuit.
Even if the medication was mislabeled by the manufacturer, a jury may well find that the pharmacist should have caught the error. If you received or believed you received the wrong medication for your condition, contact a Chicago medical malpractice law firm today.
- Failing To Discuss Symptoms/Side Effects
Most medications have some kind of symptom or side effect and it is your prescribing physician’s responsibility to warn you of the side effects.
They need to tell you what to expect while you are taking the medication, how to take the medication and any foods, drinks, or behaviors you should avoid while on it. Failure to do so may be considered medical malpractice and can make them vulnerable to a lawsuit.
- Failing to Take Into Account a Patient’s Medical History
If pharmacy records indicate that a patient is seriously allergic to a certain medication, the pharmacist should not dispense that medication. Instead, they should contact the prescribing physician or instruct the patient to do so.
If the pharmacist does not do either, they may be found guilty of pharmacy medical malpractice.
Alternatively, perhaps this is the first time the patient has visited this pharmacy and the pharmacist knows a medication has a great risk for an allergic reaction.
The pharmacist should ask the patient about their allergy history to try to determine if the patient might have an adverse reaction to the medication.
- Failing to Screen Multiple Prescriptions
A patient taking three prescriptions from different doctors might come to the pharmacy with a fourth prescription from another doctor. The pharmacist should review all four prescriptions to make sure the patient can take the new prescription along with the other three.
If a pharmacist fails to screen multiple prescriptions, they may be found negligent.
- Equipment Malfunction
There can be an equipment malfunction that causes too much medication to be administered to the patient. A mechanical malfunction could be caused by things like a weak battery or a defective valve in a piece of medical equipment.
At the Law Office of Scott D. DeSalvo, we are prepared to handle medication malpractice cases involving:
- Prescribing the wrong dosage
- Pharmacy filling the wrong drug
- Failure to recognize contraindications before prescribing
- Failure to alert patients to serious side effects
- Failure to note allergic reaction when prescribing a medication
- Poor communication between healthcare provides regarding drugs
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Medical malpractice cases, including those involving medication errors, are regulated by complex rules from state to state and case to case. Therefore, it’s essential for you to get the advice and support of an attorney who has experience handling these cases.