Who’s Responsible for Medication Errors?
Medical malpractice is a complicated area of the law. There isn’t just one singular type of medical malpractice; it’s an umbrella term that includes many different types of negligence that can happen in the healthcare industry. Medication errors are just one of the most common types of malpractice a patient can be impacted by.
Healthcare professionals have a responsibility to act in their patient’s best interests, but medication is a very sensitive thing. What works well for one patient might not be right for another. It’s extremely important that all healthcare professionals who administer medication stay vigilant about making sure the medication being given to a patient will help them, not harm them.
It’s estimated that about 1.3 million people in the United States are injured every year as a result of medication errors. How are so many people being hurt?
Whether it’s by giving too much of a prescription drug or too little, dosage mistakes can be very dangerous. Incorrect dosages are by far one of the most common types of medication mistakes. The FDA estimates that 41% of all fatal medication mistakes between 1993 and 1998 were caused by incorrect dosages. Simply overlooking a zero or putting a decimal point in the wrong place can drastically alter the amount of medication a person receives.
Mistakes with dosage aren’t always caused by human error, either. In cases where a medication is given intravenously or through another automated system like a pump, a system malfunction or defective product can throw off the amount of medication a patient receives.
Being Given the Wrong Medication
Whether it’s because a manufacturer or pharmacist mislabeled a drug or the pharmacist misread a doctor’s prescription, it’s very easy for a patient to be given a medication that’s very different from the one they were supposed to receive.
Are you taking any other medications or have any allergies? If so, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists need to keep that in mind before giving you any medication. While many types of medications are perfectly fine to take together, others can be potentially be very dangerous when combined. Or in many cases, patients have serious allergies to ingredients in many types of medications.
Lack of Communication
When a patient is given a prescription for a new medication, it’s very important that they be made aware of any possible side effects they might encounter while taking the drug and be informed of anything else that could interfere with the effectiveness of the drug. If they’re not given this kind of information, the consequences could be very serious. For example, the effects of some types of medication can be magnified with alcohol or certain types of food.
With so many different types of medication errors, who’s liable for them? If you or a loved one has been harmed by a medication mistake, it’s very important to contact a wrong medication lawyer as soon as possible because figuring out liability can be complex. In theory, anyone from a nurse to the manufacturer of a prescription drug can be legally held responsible. It all depends on the exact nature of the mistake. For example, in the case of a patient being given a medication that was mislabeled, was it the manufacturer who mislabeled it or was it someone who worked in the pharmacy? A lawyer will be able to help you determine who would be responsible in your situation.