When a patient receives the wrong medication, the results can be deadly. Medication errors are so common that at least 1.5 million Americans are harmed each year, according to a 2006 report of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Medication mistakes can occur at almost any point from the time the drug is manufactured to the time it is taken by the patient. The resulting injuries range from:
- Temporary discomfort
- Severe allergic reactions
- Permanent disability
Our medical malpractice attorneys have experience representing victims of medication errors and understand the complexity of these cases. Types of medication error cases we handle include:
- Wrong medicine
- Wrong dose
- Gentamicin toxicity / poisoning
- Steroid-induced injuries
- Illegible handwritten prescription
- Confusing medication label
Common Causes of Medication Errors
The American Hospital Association lists the following as the most common causes of medication errors:
Incomplete Patient Information
Prescribing doctors and medical staff not knowing about a patient’s allergies, other medicines the patient is taking, other medical conditions, or laboratory test results.
Unavailable Drug Information
Prescribing doctors need to have accurate, complete, and up-to-date drug information and warnings.
Illegible and/or Unclear Drug Prescriptions
Prescriptions can be filled incorrectly when the doctor’s handwriting cannot be read or the notations are not interpreted correctly. Pharmacists can be confused about:
- Drugs with similar names
- Misuse of zeroes and decimal points
- Confusion of metric and other dosing units
- Use of inappropriate abbreviations on the prescription
- Illegible handwriting
Lack of Appropriate Labeling or Confusing Medication Labels
All warnings, dosage information, and other information must be transferred to labels when a drug is prepared and repackaged into smaller units.
Doctors, medical staff, and pharmacists can be distracted by noise, interruptions, and other factors that can result in medication errors.
Medication mishaps can occur at any time during these activities:
- Prescribing: When the doctor decides which medication should be used
- Repackaging: When the pharmacy staff prepares smaller dosages from larger containers of medication
- Dispensing: When the pharmacy selects the drug to fill the prescription
- Administering: When the doctor or medical staff gives the patient the medication
- Monitoring: When the doctor or medical staff check to see if the medication is helping or if it is causing a problem (such as an allergic reaction)
The experienced medical malpractice attorneys of Kershaw, Cutter & Ratinoff can help you if you or a loved one has been injured by a medication error. Please fill out and submit the contact form on this page for a free case evaluation or call us toll-free at (888) 285-3333.