Medical malpractice can happen for a variety of reasons. Surgeons who operate on the wrong body part, physicians who misdiagnose a debilitating condition, or doctors who fail to follow up with a patient could all be found at fault for medical malpractice. One of the most common forms of medical malpractice is a medication error. Below, learn ways in which you can avoid being the victim of a medication error.
If you suspect your that health care provider has incorrectly administered your medication, reach out to a Silver Spring medical malpractice lawyer for guidance on your case today. We offer a free, no obligation consultation to learn about your legal rights.
What is a Prescription Drug Error?
One of the most common reasons for medical malpractice claims is prescription drug errors. Prescription drug errors can be caused by doctors, nurses, hospitals, hospital pharmacies, pharmacists, the drug manufacturer and other medical professionals. Some examples of prescription drug errors include the following:
- Medication that is not labeled correctly
- Administering the wrong medication to a patient
- Failure to warn a patient of the side effects of a drug
- Administering the wrong dosage of medication to a patient, including giving the patient too low or too high of a dosage
- Prescribing a patient medication that negatively interacts with other medication he or she is taking
- Prescribing medication to a patient that he or she has an allergy to
Where Medication Errors Happen and Why
Medication errors can happen in any medical setting, including hospitals, doctor’s offices, pharmacies and in drug manufacturing facilities. Any doctor who prescribes medication can make an error in doing so that can cause a patient to suffer additional illnesses or injuries.
Why do medication errors occur? Check out the list of reasons why medication errors occur below:
- Failure to communicate between your doctors and nurses
- Failure to communicate with your doctor
- Confusion because of the abbreviations used for medications
- Medications that look the same
- Medication names sound alike
- Failure of your doctor to thoroughly examine your medical chart
- Failure of medical personnel to review your allergies
- Failure of the pharmacist to check with the prescribing doctor if there is a problem
Precautions for Patients
As a patient, you cannot rely on the doctors, nurses, hospital staff and pharmacists to avoid medication errors. Why? Many hospitals are understaffed, which means nurses are working double shifts and are tired. When medical professionals are overworked, they are more at risk to make a mistake in the treatment of their patients, including making mistakes with medications.
Patients can take the following precautions at different stages of treatment to help themselves avoid medication errors:
- Admission of the patient: When a patient is admitted to the hospital, the patient should provide nurses and other staff members with copies of his or her medication list. This will help doctors and pharmacists avoid prescribing medication that could interact poorly with medicine patients are currently taking.
- Administration of drugs: When it comes to the administration of the drugs, patients should only accept medication when the doctor or nurse goes through a two-patient identifier process. Be sure to ask the nurse plenty of questions about the medication, including what side effects it causes.
- Monitoring: Make sure the nurses and doctors are monitoring you properly while you are in the hospital. If they fail to check your vital signs before and after administering your drugs, request to speak to the doctor. Make sure you are hooked up to the proper machines and that they are working correctly.
- Discharge of the patient: When the time comes for you to be discharged from the hospital, make sure you speak with your doctor before accepting discharge. You will want to have the doctor visit you in the hospital for a face-to-face interaction. Ask plenty of questions about your post-hospital care and the medications you will be taking.
Who is Liable?
There are multiple people who can be held liable for medication errors and it all depends on how the error occurred, where it occurred and the injuries you suffered. If the medication error occurred in the hospital, the following parties can be held liable for the error:
- Hospital staff
- The Hospital
- Hospital pharmacy and pharmacist
If the medication error was due to mislabeling or improper warnings or instructions, the manufacturer of the drug could be held liable. Doctors and nurses from your family physician, eye, dental or chiropractic office and pharmacists can be held liable for medication errors just like those who work in hospitals.
Call for a Qualified Lawyer for More Information
Do you believe you have suffered an injury because of a medication error by your doctor, nurse, hospital staff member or pharmacist? If so, it is important that you protect your rights by speaking to an experienced attorney.