Medication Errors And Medical Malpractice
Medication errors are a frequent cause of injury in the health care setting. Patients may be provided too much medication, too little, or simply the wrong medication. These medication errors can have devastating consequences for the patient, resulting in serious injury or death. In fact, according to a report from The Institute of Medicine, up to 7,000 patients die annually in the United States as a result of medication errors.
Medication Complications And Medication Allergic Reactions
A medication error may result from something as simple as a misplaced decimal point, causing a patient to receive 5 milligrams of a medication when she should have received only .5 milligrams. Medication errors also occur when the health care provider fails to consider the potential interaction between the drug he is prescribing and medications that the patient is already taking, or fails to note a patient’s known allergy to a medication.
Pharmacist And Physician Malpractice
The health care provider prescribing the medication is not always at fault for a medication error. Frequently, the pharmacist filling the prescription is the source of the problem. The pharmacist may fill a prescription with a medication that resembles the medication that was actually prescribed, or with a medication that has a name that is similar to the drug that was actually prescribed. Or the pharmacist may simply provide the patient with a drug that was intended for a different patient.
Medication errors frequently lead to serious harm. Overdoses of potent drugs or prescription drug that the patient is allergic can lead to brain damage, coma, or death. Additionally, physicians who fail to use appropriate care in prescribing certain medications may cause their patients to develop crippling drug addictions.
Examples Of Cases Involving Medication Errors
The attorneys at Garau Germano, P.C. have substantial experience in pursuing claims for medical malpractice arising from medication errors. Examples of some of the medication error cases our firm has successfully pursued are:
- A 9-year-old girl receives 200 times the recommended dose of radioactive iodine during a thyroid scan, resulting in the girl having a likelihood of developing thyroid cancer in her lifetime.
- A 37-year-old man is prescribed six times the appropriate dosage of the powerful painkiller fentanyl, resulting in the patient’s death.
- A 13-year-old girl is administered fentanyl with Valium and other central nervous system depressants while hospitalized, resulting in the girl’s death.
What Factors Can Lead To Incorrect Drug Prescriptions?
When you receive a prescription from your Indiana doctor after a hospital stay or examination, you should be confident that the prescribed medication is what you need to treat your condition or help you recover without causing you any additional health problems. But sometimes patients can be prescribed the wrong drug. This should not happen, but it does, thanks to a number of factors that can make a health care provider confuse one drug for another.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) points out that similarities in drug names contribute to drug confusion. The name of prescription medication may look very much like the name of another drug. This can cause a doctor to give a patient the wrong prescription name, or a pharmacy to provide a patient with the incorrect drug.
Sometimes drugs may be confused because the name of a drug is pronounced similarly to the name of another drug. You might be told the name of a drug by your doctor, but when you tell your pharmacist or another doctor the name of the medication, the other party may think you are talking about a different drug altogether.
To reduce the possibility that you will end up with the wrong medication, you should have the name of the drug written down. Do not rely simply on hearing the name of the medication. Before you fill out your prescription, ask your doctor if there are similar drug names that might be confused about your current medication. Also, check with a pharmacist or the health care provider you are involved with to confirm the identity of your prescribed drug.
None of these steps relieves your health care providers of their responsibility to verify your medication. In addition to checking out the name and properties of your medication, they should be sure that the drug they prescribe you is meant to treat your specific medical condition.