Medication Errors: Just a Mistake or Medical Malpractice?
Ragain & Clark October 31, 2023
For many of us, our medications are literally the difference between life and death. But what happens when you are given the wrong medication? Medication errors are surprisingly common and, unfortunately, can lead to serious health problems. Some medication errors can be the result of a simple mistake or an error in judgment, while other medication errors are the result of medical malpractice. If you have suffered harm as a result of a medication error, you should reach out to a medical malpractice attorney to discuss your options and whether you might have a claim.
Common Types of Medication Errors That Lead to Medical Malpractice Claims
Medication errors can occur at several different points between the time the doctor writes the prescription to when the prescription is filled. The following are the most common medication errors that give rise to medical malpractice claims:
- Improper labeling
- Prescribing a medication that would be harmful in light of the patient’s medical history due to allergies or other health issues
- Prescribing a medication that would be harmful when combined with medications the patient is already taking
- Dispensing the wrong medication or the wrong dosage
- Failing to warn the patient of potential side effects
- Failing to provide adequate instructions for taking the medication
In some instances, something as small as a typo or reading a prescription incorrectly can lead to a medication error that results in serious harm. If you have experienced any of the medication errors described above, a medical malpractice attorney can assess whether you have a claim.
When Medication Errors Become a Medical Malpractice Claim
Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, hospitals, and other healthcare providers have a responsibility to ensure that their patients get the right medications. However, the fact that a mistake occurs does not necessarily mean that you have a medical malpractice claim. In order to pursue a claim, you have to be able to prove the following:
- That there was a medical standard for prescribing medication in this case. While this is usually not a challenge, it is important to understand how that standard would apply to your case.
- That the person or entity prescribing or dispensing the medication failed to conform to the medical standard. This could include things such as failing to follow established protocols for dispensing medication, failing to carefully review medical records, failing to warn of side effects, or failing to provide instructions on how to properly take the medication. In most medical malpractice claims, proving this element is the most important step in the case.
- That you suffered harm as a result of the error. You cannot pursue a medical malpractice claim unless you suffered some physical harm to your health. The harm you suffered can be temporary and can include making a preexisting condition worse, but it should be serious enough to support a claim.
An experienced medical malpractice attorney will be able to review your case and determine whether the facts are sufficient to support a medical malpractice claim.
Who Should Be Held Accountable for Your Medication Error?
As mentioned above, there may be several people involved in the process of providing you with the medication that caused you harm. This can include the following people or entities:
- The doctor if they were negligent in prescribing medication
- The nurse who administered the medication if you received the medication in a hospital or similar facility
- The hospital pharmacy
- The outside pharmacy or pharmacist
In some cases, patients suffer harm because the medication itself is dangerous even when properly prescribed.
Determining who should be held accountable is often difficult and failure to pursue the correct party can jeopardize your claim. This is one of the reasons why it is important to work with an experienced medical malpractice attorney if you have suffered due to a medication error. They can help you identify the correct party who should be held liable for your injuries.
Contact Ragain & Clark if You Have Suffered from a Medication Error
If you are the victim of a medication error, you need someone on your side who can help you get the compensation you need to regain your health. At Ragain & Clark, we have over 30 years of experience helping people in Montana and Wyoming recover from medical malpractice. Call us today at 307-388-6400 (Worland) or 406-651-8888 (Billings) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with a medical malpractice attorney who knows how to get results.