Man holding a prescription bottle.

Understanding Your Legal Rights After A Medication Error

Prescription medication is powerful and potentially deadly, so your pharmacist, doctor, or other healthcare provider cannot afford to get it wrong. Yet despite the laws and regulations that control prescription drugs, many Illinois residents are seriously injured by medication errors. If your prescription medication error was the result of negligence, you may have a claim for monetary compensation. That’s where the medical malpractice attorneys of Hale & Monico come in.

Why Medication Errors Are So Common

Pharmacists and other healthcare providers are granted tremendous power in prescribing medications to their patients. Yet far too many commit avoidable errors such as:

  • Dispensing the wrong medication. Miscommunications, similar-sounding drug names, or simple labeling errors can cause a pharmacist to dispense the incorrect drug.
  • Dispensing the incorrect dosage of medication. Pharmacists and other providers are required to carefully dispense the right amount of drugs to treat the underlying disease or condition. Getting the dosage correct is often the difference between life and death.
  • Failure to consider allergies and adverse drug reactions. Doctors and pharmacists should always ask their patients about allergies and other drugs they may be taking before prescribing a medication.
  • Failure to consider the patient’s medical and family history. This error often, but does not always, occur with the doctor. Your healthcare provider needs to know about your medical and family history to ensure the right drug and dosage are prescribed.
  • Failure to give instructions and warnings. Pharmacists need to give patients detailed instructions on how to take the medicine, as well as warnings (such as not mixing it with alcohol) and any possible side effects.

When a doctor, pharmacist, or other provider makes a mistake involving medication, the consequences may be severe:

  • Side effects, including unanticipated ones
  • Adverse drug reactions
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Physical injuries
  • Neurological injuries
  • Drug dependence and addiction
  • Failure to treat the underlying condition
  • Hospitalization
  • Death

Understanding the Cause of Medication Errors

Understanding why the error happened will go a long way in establishing liability. Some common reasons for medication mistakes include:

  • Poor handwriting. Doctors are notorious for having bad handwriting. Poorly written prescriptions can cause serious injuries if the information contained in them is not checked for accuracy.
  • Carelessness. Pharmacists, doctors, and other healthcare professionals have to abide by a certain level of care in prescribing and dispensing medications. Even apparently simple mistakes, such as miscounting the number of pills, can have life-threatening consequences.
  • Distractions. Doctors are often overworked and don’t dedicate the proper amount of time to their patients.
  • Not asking the right questions. Your intake nurse, doctor, and pharmacist should ask relevant questions about your medical history to make sure the right drug is prescribed and dispensed.
  • Insufficient or inexperienced staffing. Pharmacies should have enough qualified, experienced people working to ensure that errors are not made.

If a mistake is made, it will be up to the plaintiff to prove it was an unreasonable error caused by negligence. This requires a thorough understanding of, and experience with, Illinois medical malpractice law. You could be eligible for compensation for your medical expenses, lost time from work, lost earning capacity, and other damages.

The knowledgeable attorneys of Hale & Monico can investigate your injuries and make sure that the responsible parties are held accountable. Let us help with your medication error case today.