The expectation when you seek help from a doctor or medical professional is that you will leave feeling better or with a path toward healing. So it can be alarming to begin feeling worse because you were prescribed the wrong medication due to a medication error.
If this has happened to you or a loved one, the first step is to seek immediate medical attention, either from your doctor or another medical professional you trust. The next step you may consider taking is filing a medical malpractice claim and reporting the incident to the medical board. But does a medication error constitute medical malpractice and if so, how do you know?
In This Article:
- What is a Medication Error?
- Is This Medical Malpractice?
- Types of Prescribing Errors That Can Occur
- Common Injuries Caused by Medication Errors
- Who Else Can Be to Blame For Medication Errors?
- How Disparti Law Group Accident & Injury Lawyers Can Help
What is a Medication Error?
If you discover or suspect that you were prescribed the wrong medication, it’s best to first understand how to define a medication error. While there is no clear-cut definition, a medication error can generally be defined as a preventable medication treatment failure by a healthcare professional that caused harm to a patient.
A medication error can occur at any step in the healthcare process including:
- Order communication
- Product labeling
- Transcribing (i.e. illegible handwriting)
Prescribing errors account for nearly 50% of all medication errors.
Is This Medical Malpractice?
Medication errors are a common type of medical malpractice. Between 7,000 and 9,000 people die due to a medication error each year in the United States. The costs surpass $40 billion a year. If your doctor prescribed you the wrong medication, you may be able to file a medical malpractice claim. To win your claim against your doctor and compensation for your injuries, you must prove the following:
- you suffered injuries due to the doctor’s negligence
- the medication error occurred because of the doctor’s negligence.
You may be able to collect damages for any related medical costs, treatments, lost wages, and sometimes pain and suffering caused by the error.
An experienced medical malpractice lawyer will know how to collect evidence, find expert witnesses, and determine when and how the negligence occurred. As soon as you notice something is wrong, contact a lawyer and seek medical attention. It will be important to document every medical treatment and procedure received for the injuries caused by your doctor’s prescribing error.
Types of Prescribing Errors That Can Occur
Many medication errors that occur are prescribing errors. If you’re not a medical professional, you may be unaware of the many ways a prescribing error can occur during treatment. The most common error is prescribing the incorrect dosage. That means that you are given too little or too much of the medication. Dosage errors account for one-third of all prescribing errors.
Other types of prescribing errors can occur if your doctor:
- prescribes the wrong medication.
- prescribes medicine that causes another condition to worsen.
- does not warn you of the side effects, risks, or drug interactions.
- suggests the incorrect frequency or duration to take the medication.
- prescribes medicine that you are allergic to.
- fails to prescribe the medicine required to treat your condition.
A hospital is a busy place and especially after the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, many hospitals are still suffering the consequences of staffing losses. Prescribing errors can occur due to your doctor’s negligence but also due to hurrying, forgetfulness, lack of motivation, or carelessness.
Common Injuries Caused by Medication Errors
Medication errors can be very serious and, in some cases, life-threatening. Injuries caused by this type of medical malpractice can include:
- Heart attack
- Blood clots
- Organ failure
- High blood pressure
- Low blood pressure
- Severe pain
- Allergic reaction
- Mental health crisis (i.e. psychosis, depression, anxiety, etc)
- Wrongful death
Who Else Can Be to Blame For Medication Errors?
Several different healthcare professionals are involved with the medication required for your treatment. While it’s easy to assume that your doctor is the one or only one to blame for a prescribing error, they may only be partially at fault. They may not even have anything to do with the error at all. Other employee’s negligence may also be the cause of a medication error including:
- drug manufacturers
- medical assistants
- medical techs
While individuals may be responsible for medication errors, many are beginning to pay attention to how the system itself may be responsible for these errors. Better safeguards can be put in place in the system itself that will help to prevent medication errors from happening at all.
How Disparti Law Group Accident & Injury Lawyers Can Help
Recovering from an injury caused by a medication error can be incredibly challenging. Patients often have to return to the hospital for additional care or treatment, taking precious time away from family, activities, work, and important parts of their lives. At Disparti Law Group Accident & Injury Lawyers, we can help you get back to what’s important, allowing you the time and energy you need to heal.
Our experienced medical malpractice lawyers can help you understand your rights under Illinois and federal law, correctly file your claim, collect evidence, speak to expert witnesses, and calculate fair compensation for damages. Many medical malpractice claims are settled out of court, but should your case go to court, your attorney will be able to fight on your behalf.
If you were prescribed the wrong medication, you may question whether it is worth filing a claim for your medication error injury. But reporting your experience and holding medical professionals accountable for negligence can help prevent it from happening to others. It may also put a spotlight on changes that should be made to the system as a whole.
Don’t hesitate to schedule your FREE consult today. Call (312) 600-6000 to discover why many say… Larry wins!