Medication Error Claims & What You Need to Know
Medications can produce miracles. But when an error occurs in prescribing or administering medication, you can suffer injuries or even death. Medication errors can support a negligence or malpractice claim. As a result, you may be able to recover compensation for the injuries you suffer and their consequences.
Read on to learn what you need to know about medication errors before you file a claim. Or, if you are a New York resident, contact our team at Silberstein, Awad & Miklos for a free, no-obligation consultation.
How Medication Errors Happen
Medication errors happen when you receive the wrong medication, the wrong dose of a medication, or a medication that produces an adverse effect. A medication error can result from many mistakes, including:
- Prescribing the wrong medication for your condition
- Prescribing the wrong dose for your size
- Choosing a medication to which you have a known allergy
- Filling the prescription with the wrong medication
- Giving incorrect instructions for the use of the medication
- Receiving adulterated medication
- Mixing up patient records or prescriptions
The professionals who can commit medication errors include:
- The office staff at a doctor’s office
- Pharmacists and pharmacy assistants
- Drug manufacturers
Some medication errors produce no adverse effects. But occasionally, an error can produce serious injuries.
Common Injuries from Medication Errors
Medications are chemicals, and chemicals can produce unpredictable effects on your body. Some injuries you can suffer from a medication error include:
An overdose happens when you receive too much medication. The effects of an overdose will depend on the medication you took. For example, an overdose of opiate pain medication like oxycodone can cause death. Other medications will produce toxic effects when you take too much. You could suffer from internal bleeding, high or low blood pressure, heart arrhythmia, or other symptoms.
An underdose happens when you receive too little medication. An underdose can prevent you from receiving an effective amount of the drug. This might delay your recovery or be as fatal as an overdose. For example, if you receive an underdose of chemotherapy drugs, you will not experience the benefits of the chemotherapy treatment. As a result, your recovery might be delayed or prevented.
Another dangerous underdose happens when an anesthesiologist fails to administer enough sedatives. This results in anesthetic awareness, a condition where you remain awake during surgery and remember everything that happened.
Some drugs produce adverse effects if taken together. Sometimes, the interaction amplifies the effects of the drugs. Other times, the interaction nullifies the effects of the drugs. In either situation, the combination produces an unintended and adverse reaction in your body. Adverse drug interactions usually happen when the doctor fails to ask you about the other drugs you take. They can also happen when your records get mixed up with another patient’s records at the doctor’s office, hospital, or pharmacy.
Allergic reactions happen when your immune system overreacts to an allergen and sends out histamines and antibodies. These substances cause the symptoms of an allergic response, including:
- Tight chest
In extreme cases, you may experience anaphylaxis, resulting in death.
Allergic reactions can happen in many ways, including:
- Patient or patient record mix-ups
- Failure of the doctor to ask about your allergies
- Incomplete instructions by the drug manufacturer or pharmacist
Even if paramedics or a doctor can counteract the allergic reaction with medicine, you can still suffer serious physical or mental symptoms.
Ingestion of Unintended Substances
Medication can get adulterated. This adulteration can happen at a factory, retail store, pharmacy, or hospital.
Sometimes unintended substances get introduced deliberately. But you may still have a claim for a failure to protect the medication’s integrity. For example, if an IV bag gets tampered with at a hospital, the hospital might have acted negligently in securing the IV bags or hiring the people who handle them. Other times, the adulterant gets introduced accidentally. If the adulteration resulted from the manufacturing process, the manufacturer might bear liability for the defective medication.
Proving a Medication Error Claim
Prescription drug mistakes are some of the most common medical malpractice claims. But not every adverse drug event will provide grounds for malpractice. Medical malpractice comes from negligence law. The principles of professional malpractice and ordinary negligence are the same. The main difference is the person used to determine the standard of care.
Ordinary negligence happens when someone fails to act with the same prudence as a reasonable person in the same circumstances. Medical malpractice happens when a healthcare provider fails to exercise the same care as a reasonably prudent medical professional in the same situation.
Proving a medication error claim can be difficult. You will probably need an experienced lawyer and well-known expert witnesses to explain what happened to a jury. If you are a New York resident and would like to discuss your possible medication error case with an experienced lawyer, contact our team at Silberstein, Awad & Miklos for a free, no-obligation consultation.