A common form of medical negligence concerns medication errors. Approximately 1.5 million people in the United States are affected by a medication error in some way each year. A medication error can occur at any point in time between when the prescription is made for a certain medication to the administration of the drug to a patient. There can also be errors made by the prescription filling pharmacy. An improper medication can exacerbate a patient’s problem, or could even cause death.
Doctor Prescribes the Incorrect Medication
There are many ways in which a doctor could be liable for negligently causing a medication error when preparing a prescription. For example, the doctor could prescribe the incorrect medication to treat a diagnosed condition, which could cause the condition to get worse. A medication error at this stage in the prescription process could be the result of an improper diagnosis made by the doctor in the first place, a human error could be made by the doctor in transcribing the prescription, or the medication error could be the result if the doctor improperly prescribes a dosage amount that is too small or too large. Dosage errors are the most common medication error that occurs due to the doctor’s negligence. The doctor could also be negligent if he or she prescribes multiple medications but fails to consider the potential for hazardous drug interactions that could occur if the patient were to take the prescribed medications together in combination.
Medication errors can occur at the hands of pharmacy workers. What often happens at this level of the prescription process is that the pharmacist, or more frequently the pharmacy technician, makes a human error. While the doctor’s prescription could be correct, any number of mistakes can happen. There could be a mistake made by the pharmacy in entering patient information into the computer system, mixing up of patient prescriptions, improper dosages prepared for a patient or the pharmacy could fail to identify potentially dangerous medication interactions based on the patient’s prescription history, or the other medications that the patient is currently on. While there are usually oversight procedures in place to prevent against medication errors at the pharmacy level, such as the pharmacist must approve all prescripts that are distributed from the pharmacy, sometimes these errors slip through and ultimately harm a patient.
There are several different ways in which a medication error can occur at the time of administration. For instance, frequently in hospital settings and nursing homes, medications are administered accidentally to the wrong patient or resident. Sometimes, particularly in hospital settings, equipment is used to administer doses of medication to a patient over time. A malfunctioning device could administer more or less than is supposed to be administered in each dose. Similarly, a nurse could have mistakenly set the machine to administer too much or too little drug in each dose.
Contacting a Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you believe that you have been harmed by a medication error, you need to discuss the circumstances of your situation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney to determine whether you have a claim, and who is the proper party to bring that claim against. Please contact us today to learn more.
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