Most people don’t think twice before taking a prescription medication prescribed by a doctor and filled by a local pharmacist. But surprisingly, nearly 20% of people responding to a Massachusetts survey stated they’d experienced a recent medical error including medication mistakes — one of the most common medical errors. When a patient experiences a medication error, the results may range from mild inconvenience to devastating physical consequences. Medication errors constitute medical malpractice and victims may be entitled to substantial compensation for this type of injury. But when there’s a significant number of medical professionals and entities between the prescription and the patient, it may be difficult to determine where liability for a medication error lies.
How Do Medication Errors Occur?
Taking the wrong medication or the wrong dosage can cause serious injury, yet these errors happen all too frequently in Boston and elsewhere. So, how do these medication mistakes happen? Research shows that medication errors happen in some of the following ways:
- The wrong medication is prescribed, either by the doctor or the medical professional who calls the prescription into the pharmacy or sends the prescription electronically
- The incorrect dosage is prescribed by a doctor or during the transfer of information to the pharmacy resulting in either an ineffective too-low dose or a dangerous too-high dosage
- The medication dosage is correct but the instructions for how much to take or how often to take it is incorrect
- Allergic reaction occurs due to failure to review a patient’s medical history
- A drug interaction occurs due to a failure to review or note all of the patient’s current medications
These are the most common types of medication mistakes and how they happen. While some mistakes are quickly caught and corrected or cause little harm, many medication mistakes cause serious negative health impacts including long-term impairments, disability, or even death.
Determining Liability for a Medication Error
It may take the investigative skills of an experienced Boston medication error attorney to identify the liable party in your specific medical malpractice case involving a medication mistake. In most cases, liability lies with one of the following parties and in some cases with multiple parties:
- Medical professionals, particularly the prescribing doctor or an administrating nurse. These professionals bear the responsibility to ensure they are prescribing and administering the correct medication to the right patient in the right dosage. Physicians must take careful precautions to write the correct information so the pharmacy fills the prescription correctly and prints the proper label. A nurse’s responsibility is to double-check the prescription information with the patient’s identification and medical history. These practices are the expected duty of care for medical professionals.
- Pharmacies and their staff may also be liable for a medication mistake. Their duty of care includes ensuring they fill the medication prescription correctly, print the label correctly, and give the correct dosage and frequency instructions.
- Hospitals, surgery centers, and clinics may also be liable for medication errors. It’s the hospital’s responsibility to ensure they hire only qualified staff and to see that their staff performs to the highest standards. Hospitals are tasked with developing stringent safeguard policies to prevent medication errors.
- Drug manufacturers are sometimes found liable for medication mistakes. Contaminated medications and medications labeled incorrectly may result in devastating consequences.
How Could a Medical Malpractice Claim for a Medication Error Benefit Me?
A successful investigation to determine the liable party often ends in a settlement out of court but may also require litigation. A successful claim or court award for a personal injury due to medication error malpractice can gain you the following compensation and damages:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages and lost future earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of life quality in cases of permanent health problems, impairment, or disability
- Wrongful death
If you or a loved one suffered this type of injury, a Boston medical malpractice attorney can help you identify the liable party and then fight aggressively on your behalf. When a trusted medical professional breaches the duty of care expected in the doctor/patient relationship you deserve the maximum in compensation and damages. Contact a Boston medication error lawyer at Barry D. Lang, M.D. & Associates today for help getting started on your claim.