Injuries Resulting from Medication Errors
Prescription medications save millions of lives every year. Unfortunately, when medications are mis-prescribed or improperly dispensed, they can also cause serious injury and even death. While physicians who make mistakes when prescribing medications and pharmacists who dispense the incorrect or wrong amounts of a medication can be held liable for resulting injuries, these types of claims do tend to be complicated, so if you or a loved one were the victim of a pharmaceutical or physician error and have questions about your legal rights, it is critical to retain an experienced prescription error attorney who can address your concerns.
Common Medication Errors
Medication errors occur at a much higher rate than most people realize. In fact, a 2008 report indicated that as many as 1.9 million people were injured because they took or were given the wrong type or dose of medication in one year alone. While it is true that in some cases, mistakes can easily be corrected and don’t result in serious injury, it is also possible to sustain serious injury by taking the wrong medication. In most situations, these types of errors are the result of:
- A physician’s failure to prescribe the correct product;
- A pharmacist’s misinterpretation of a physician’s script;
- A doctor or pharmacist’s failure to recognize problems that could arise due to an interaction between different drugs;
- A pharmacist’s failure to warn patients of harmful side effects;
- Communication problems between physicians and pharmacists;
- Insufficient pharmacist training, mentoring, and coaching;
- Fatigue, which is common amongst pharmacists who work long shifts;
- A failure to supervise pharmacy technicians tasked with measuring, labeling, and dispensing medications;
- Attaching the wrong label to a bottle of medication;
- A failure to recognize a patient’s allergy to certain types of medication;
- A doctor’s failure to take a patient’s history; or
- Over-reliance on automated systems, which can cause problems with computer-generated refills.
While these are some of the most common types of pharmacist or physician negligence that lead to medication errors, they are by no means the only kind. For instance, many medication errors can be linked not to the prescribing doctor or the physician who filled the prescription, but to the drug manufacturer itself who failed to properly test the product or warn users of certain side effects.
Doctors and pharmacists are required to use a heightened standard of care when dealing with patients and medical professionals who fail to fulfill these duties can be held legally liable for resulting injuries, which often include:
- Allergic reactions, resulting in anaphylactic shock;
- Birth defects or miscarriage caused by taking certain medications while pregnant;
- Heart or organ failure; and
- Seizures or convulsions.
Unfortunately, many of these conditions don’t manifest for months after a patient starts taking a medication, at which point, the effects could have become permanent.
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