Medication Errors Are a Form of Medical Malpractice

When a person is injured as the result of being prescribed the incorrect drug, an incorrect dosage of a drug, or is given incorrect instructions for taking a medication, by a doctor, health professional, or pharmacist, this may constitute medical malpractice. And when a person is injured due to medication errors, the victim may be eligible to file a Virginia personal injury claim against the parties that are responsible for causing the medication error.

Medication errors happen all too frequently in various settings. For instance:

  • While at the hospital, a nurse may make a mistake and administer the wrong medication to a patient, or administer medication via an improper route (i.e., administering a drug intravenously when the drug should only be taken orally)
  • A doctor might make a mistake on an individual’s prescription, prescribing a wrong drug with a similar name to the correct drug, or prescribing the incorrect dosage
  • A pharmacist may misread a prescription or may make a mistake when filling the prescription
  • In a nursing home, staff might mix up the medications prescribed to one nursing home resident for the medication prescribed to another nursing home resident
  • In a nursing home, staff could mistakenly, or purposely, give a resident medication to control the elderly resident’s behavior

Many individuals are in a position to cause harm to a victim by mishandling the victim’s medication. Pharmaceutical malpractice claims can be filed against doctors, medical staff, hospitals, and pharmacies.

What Could Go Wrong?

When a doctor or medical professional makes a mistake concerning someone’s medication, the health consequences to the victim could be severe, or even life-threatening.

  • Drug interactions. An individual might be prescribed a medication that can react poorly when mixed with certain other drugs.
  • Contraindications. Some drugs can exacerbate medical conditions or can cause serious health problems, leaving a victim injured or disabled, or even dead.
  • Side effects. A victim who is prescribed the wrong drug could suffer unpleasant or injurious side effects from taking a drug that he or she does not need.
  • Too much or too little drug. Being prescribed too much drug, or too little drug can have serious consequences on a person’s health. With too little drug the individual is not getting the benefits of the drug that he or she needs. With too much drug and the individual could be harmed. Organs, such as the liver, kidneys, and heart, can suffer when provided with too much of a powerful drug.

Medication Errors Are Often Preventable

Medication errors are often preventable and are typically the result of negligence. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has conducted studies and determined that most medication errors are the result of:

  • Improper communication
  • Misinterpreted handwriting
  • Confusion about the name of a drug
  • Confusion over drug labeling, packaging, or directions
  • Lack of health care provider knowledge about the drug, or its proper administration

Let a Virginia Malpractice Attorney Help

Victims of medical malpractice often have their lives severely impacted. The injuries they sustain often leave them with much pain and suffering. Victims are left with high medical expenses and financial struggles from being unable to work. And in too many cases, families are left without their loved ones because the victims do not survive the injuries.

If you or a family member has been a victim of a medical practitioner’s negligence, contact Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp today to set up a free case evaluation with one of our dedicated Virginia malpractice attorneys.