We count on doctors, hospitals, and pharmacists to correctly prescribe and dispense medications. When a mistake is made, a patient’s health or even life could be put at risk. If you or someone you love has been injured by a medication error, how can you determine who’s at fault? Moreover, how do you hold that party accountable for their mistake?
Medication errors that result from negligence could support a claim for medical malpractice against the responsible person or entity. Hale & Monico gets to the bottom of prescription medication mistakes, and we go to court to demand compensation for the victim. Let us review your case and advise you as to your legal rights.
Common Medication Errors
Prescription drugs are heavily regulated at the state and federal level to protect patient health. Despite these precautions, mistakes are surprisingly common. Among the most common are:
- Dispensing the wrong medication. A number of errors, from the doctor’s office or hospital to the pharmacy, could result in the patient receiving the wrong drug. Labeling errors, miscommunications, and even drugs with similar names are often to blame.
- Dispensing the incorrect dosage. A dosage error could result in serious health complications or even death, even if it’s the correct drug. Pharmacists are the last ones to handle medications before handing them to patients, and a simple oversight can lead to a major error.
- Overlooking allergies and adverse drug reactions. It’s imperative that your physician and pharmacist ask you about allergies and any known reactions to medications. Adverse reactions can come from other drugs the patient is already taking, as well as food and beverages.
- Not considering the patient’s medical and family history. This mistake typically, but not always, occurs with the doctor or hospital. Your physician needs to understand relevant information about your medical and family history so the correct drug and dosage are prescribed.
- Failure to give adequate instructions and warnings. When you pick up your medication, your pharmacist should discuss some basic information about the drug, including instructions and warnings. If not, there’s a good chance you could experience severe side effects from the drug.
Why Do These Mistakes Happen?
It’s not enough to know what exactly led to the medication error. Establishing negligence is the responsibility of the injured patient, and it requires an understanding of why the mistake happened in the first place. Here are a few common reasons:
- Poor handwriting
- Not paying attention
- Lack of training
- Lack of experience with a medication or health condition
- Accidentally switching a patient’s medications
- Accidentally mixing up a patient’s medical records
- Understaffed hospital, doctor’s office, or pharmacy
- Ignoring safety measures
- Not asking the patient the right questions
Of course, there are many other causes of medication errors not covered here. The important thing for an injured patient to know is that medication negligence cases are fact-specific. A medical malpractice lawsuit can turn on a seemingly insignificant detail, so be sure your attorney knows as much as possible about the error.
Health Consequences of a Medication Error
Prescription drugs are powerful, which of course is why they are so tightly controlled. If you’ve been the victim of a medication error, you may suffer these and other consequences:
- Side effects, anticipated and unanticipated
- Adverse drug reactions
- Severe allergic reactions
- Physical injuries
- Neurological injuries
- Drug dependence
- Drug addiction
- Failure to treat the underlying condition
These complications, in turn, result in significant damages for the patient. Hospitalization may be required to reverse the effects of a mistakenly prescribed drug. If the underlying condition wasn’t treated, the patient may require more extreme, potentially dangerous treatments to do what the correct medication should have. These, in turn, mean significant out of pocket medical expenses.
If you need medical attention because of the medication error, you will lose time from work. But any sort of long-term physical or neurological injury may make it difficult or impossible for the victim to ever work again. That means lost earning capacity and lost career potential for the victim.
These mistakes are more serious than many people understand, especially if the victim has a sensitive immune system or dangerous health condition. See a doctor right away if you suspect you’ve been hurt by a medication error.
How a Medication Error Attorney Can Help
Mistakes like these could indicate medical malpractice, which is a form of negligence. Malpractice, however, doesn’t just mean an error was made. The error has to be unreasonable in light of the circumstances. Remember, it’s up to the patient to prove his or her case, so having an experienced medical malpractice attorney is key.
A knowledgeable lawyer will get to work uncovering what exactly led to the error, from the doctor’s office or hospital to the pharmacy. Your attorney will also make sure that any and all responsible parties are brought into the case. Lawsuits don’t always implicate just one liable party, so multiple individuals, companies, or medical facilities could be held accountable for the mistake.
Medical malpractice raises complicated questions concerning standards of care for pharmacists and doctors. These are technical subjects that laypeople are not qualified to discuss in court, which is why medication error attorneys often turn to expert witnesses. An expert witness can also explain what sort of long-term damages the victim may suffer because of the mistake. Our firm has a reliable network of qualified and experienced expert witnesses who routinely testify on these matters.
Finally, your lawyer should build a compelling case for monetary damages. That means understanding both the present and future economic and non-economic losses you will suffer because of the error. You can’t afford to miscalculate your damages, because you won’t get to ask for more after your case settles or is tried.
Contact a Chicago Medication Error Attorney
Patients shouldn’t have to worry that a medication error will seriously injure or kill them. At Hale & Monico, we go to work for you so you can focus on getting better. Reach out to us today to schedule a consultation.