Medication Errors

Medication Errors

People in the United Sates are living healthier and more fulfilling lives because of prescription medications.  Nearly half of all people in the United States are taking some form of prescription medication and the percentage is likely in increase as they continue to age.  However, these medications are powerful and need to be used appropriately.

The doctors, pharmacists, and other medical professionals who are entrusted with providing patients with medications need to use extreme care when they prescribe and dispense medication.  Health care professionals who make mistakes may give patients too much or too little of a particular drug, or the wrong medication altogether.  These types of errors could lead to serious injury and possibly even death.

Medication errors can result from inadequate training of individual who prescribe, prepare and administer the drugs.  In an effort to prevent medication errors, hospitals will need to undergo fundamental changes to training and error prevention programs.  Until this happens, may patients will continue to suffer serious injures because of preventable medical errors.

Types of Medication Errors

Incorrect Dosing – an underdose or overdose can be the result of an error made by the prescribing physician, the administering nurse, or the pharmacist who labels the drug.  Infants and young children are at greater risk for overdoses since many prescription medications do not have a safe dosage listed for children under a certain age.

Wrong Drug – if a patient takes the wrong drug inadvertently, the doctor, nurse, or the pharmacist could be liable for the injuries that result.  By administering, prescribing, or dispensing the incorrect drug, the patient can be robbed of the beneficial effects of the drug that was intended or lead to serious complications.

Drug Interactions – the effect of many prescription drugs will be impacted if mixed with other drugs.  Doctors are required to have patients list all drugs they are currently taking so that dangerous drug interactions are prevented.

Allergic Reactions – serious side effects may result if a patient is given a drug that they are allergic to.  Allergic reactions often happen because of “cross-reactivity.”  Cross reactive medicines are two or more drugs that have a similar chemical makeup.  If a medicine that is from a group of cross-reactive drugs that a patient is allergic to is prescribed or administered to the patient, it may be considered medical malpractice.

Side Effects – all drugs have known side effects.  The failure of a doctor to warn a patient of a drug’s potential side effects can have devastating results.  In some cases, physicians need to watch a patient and administer tests so that they can monitor for side effects.  If an injury results because a doctor failed to monitor or inform the patient, there may be grounds to a medical malpractice law suit.

If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury or has died due to a medication error, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your case.

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