Medication Errors – Do They Qualify as Medical Malpractice?
When a health care professional gives you a prescription or administers medication as part of a medical treatment, you trust that it will have the desired effect and you will be safe from harm. Unfortunately, some drugs cause more harm than good. When a person is hurt or becomes ill due to a medication error, the responsible party could be held liable for damages.
What is Considered a Prescription Drug Error?
Medication errors can lead to overdose, delayed care, or other medical complications that are either temporary or permanent. In the most extreme cases, they can even lead to death. Various types of errors by health care professionals can be considered negligence in a medical malpractice case. Some examples include:
- Administering the wrong medication
- Administering the wrong dose of medication (i.e., too little or too much medication)
- Mislabeling medication
- Prescribing harmful medication (i.e., the patient is allergic, or there is a drug interaction)
- Failing to warn patients about medication side effects
Administering the Wrong Dosage or the Wrong Medication
Medical professionals can be held responsible for giving patients the wrong dosage of a medication or the wrong medicine completely. This might be a careless mistake, an error in transposing numbers, or even the result of a physician’s terrible handwriting.
Some drugs are supposed to be administered to patients in a certain way. If a patient was meant to get a drug injected into the muscle, but it is instead injected into the bloodstream, this can cause serious damage. These are all instances in which doctors and nurses might be held responsible.
Medication that is Mislabeled
Medications can also be labeled incorrectly. This can happen at the manufacturing facility or the pharmacy. Wherever this occurs, a patient receiving the wrong dosage of medication due to a labeling error could not get the life-saving treatment they need, could get too much medicine and overdose, or something much worse. If the error was the manufacturer’s fault, you might have a products liability case, but an error at the pharmacy would likely be medical malpractice.
Prescribing Harmful Medication
Physicians and especially pharmacists are supposed to know about drug interactions and take note of a patient’s stated allergies. If these factors are ignored when prescribing or dispensing medication, the patient can suffer from a severe reaction and even die. This failure to keep the patient from harm would be another clear case of medical malpractice due to medication errors.
Not Warning Patients of Medication Side Effects
Patients have the right to know about the potential side effects of the medications they are given or those prescribed by a doctor. Giving this advice is the responsibility of both the prescribing physician and the pharmacist.
A patient should be advised about what foods to avoid with certain medications as well as which ones cause extreme drowsiness. If this information isn’t readily available and an accident or injury occurs, you might have a strong medical malpractice case.
Who is Responsible for Medication Errors?
Anyone who is involved with designing, making, prescribing, or administering medication can be held responsible for various prescription drug errors. Depending on the circumstances of the case, this will include pharmaceutical companies, pharmacists, physicians, nurses, and hospitals.
Winning a medical malpractice case for a medication error requires that you prove several things. First, you must show that there was a duty of care owed to you such as a doctor/patient relationship. You must also show that the responsible party failed to perform to their standard of care and this failure was the cause of your injury. Finally, there must be damages that resulted such as physical and emotional injuries.
Speak with an Experienced Montgomery Medical Malpractice Attorney
Chip Nix, Attorney at Law, has over 40 years of experience representing the interests of victims of personal injury and wrongful death matters throughout Alabama. If you or someone you care about has been harmed due to a medication error, you may be entitled to compensation.
While an insurance company might offer you a quick settlement, this is more a ploy to close their case cheaply than to do what is right. We have earned a reputation for aggressively pursuing full and fair compensation in these types of cases and welcome a conversation about your situation.
We offer a free consultation, and you never pay us a fee unless and until we collect damages on your behalf. Contact our office today at 334-279-7770 or reach out to us online to find out about your options.