When a doctor prescribes us medication, we trust that we’ll receive the right dosage and right medication we need to treat our health problems. These doctors have spent several years in school and practicing in the field to earn this trust. But unfortunately, this trust is occasionally violated when a doctor makes a medication error that leads to preventable health complications related to adverse drug effects. Pharmacists also occasionally make medication errors, such as giving a customer the wrong medication or the wrong dosage instructions.
If you or someone you loved has suffered health problems related to a medication error, you may be looking for accountability and financial support. When a nurse, doctor, pharmacist, or another medical professional commits a medication error due to medical negligence, the patient could have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Establishing medical negligence is a complicated process, which may require assistance from an experienced medical malpractice lawyer and expert medical witnesses.
How Common Are Medication Errors?
In today’s society, prescription medication use is extremely common. According to a study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), nearly one-third of adults in the United States take five or more medications. Nurses, doctors, pharmacists, and others involved in the distribution process all have a responsibility to make sure they do their jobs effectively in order to reduce the risk of adverse drug effects (ADE). These ADEs contribute to nearly 700,000 emergency department visits and 100,000 hospitalizations each year. Approximately 5% of inpatients can expect to experience an ADE.
Not all ADEs are caused by negligence, but many are preventable and only occur due to professional errors. These errors can occur during any part of the process beginning with the prescription of the medication and ending when the patient receives the medication. According to the same study, about half of all ADEs are preventable and lead to some degree of patient harm.
When Can You Sue?
In order to have grounds for a lawsuit following a medication error, you must establish that medical negligence was to blame for the error. There are three key components to establishing negligence:
- A healthcare professional was responsible for your care
- This healthcare professional failed to meet their industry’s standard of care
- This failure directly lead to preventable health complications
The standard of care is a term which refers to the accepted methods and practices of the medical and pharmaceutical fields. If another similarly qualified medical professional would have avoided making the same medication error under the same circumstances, then the professional who committed your medication error could be considered negligent.
If you think you may have grounds for a lawsuit related to a preventable medication error, you should consider speaking with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer will work to investigate the details of your case and possibly retain an expert medical witness who can establish negligence and testify on your behalf.
When Are Medication Errors Caused By Medical Negligence?
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There are several common forms of medical negligence which can result in medication errors, including:
- Prescription errors – Doctors can make errors while prescribing the medication, such as accidentally writing the wrong drug name, illegible handwriting, failing to account for patient allergies or harmful interactions with other prescribed medications, prescribing the wrong dosage, etc.
- Timing errors – When a patient is given their medication outside of the specified time that they’re supposed to take it.
- Incorrect dosage – Sometimes the correct dosage is prescribed, but a healthcare professional administers the wrong dosage to the patient.
- Technique-related errors – A nurse or other healthcare professional may administer the medication the wrong way, such as injecting it instead of administering it orally.
- Communication errors – When nurses, doctors, and other hospital staff fail to properly communicate, the miscommunication has the potential to result in serious medication errors.
Medical malpractice claims are generally more complicated than most other personal injury lawsuits. The root cause of your health problems likely won’t be immediately clear. The investigation by your malpractice lawyer and the medical experts he or she works with will eventually uncover how the error occurred.
How Can A Lawsuit Help?
Medical malpractice lawsuits help to compensate victims for the unnecessary harm they’ve suffered due to a healthcare professional’s mistake. Additionally, these lawsuits help demand accountability from all healthcare providers and encourage them to do more to reduce the risk of these errors. Specific damages which can be recovered in a medical malpractice lawsuit include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Physical and mental pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Wrongful death damages for families of victims of fatal complications
New York does not have a cap on the amount of financial compensation you can recover in one of these lawsuits. Your settlement or judgment amount will be based on the direct financial costs related to your health problems, along with more subjective damages awarded for damages like pain and suffering. If you want to learn more about how you can secure financial compensation following a preventable medication error, get in touch with our Queens medical malpractice lawyers today for a free consultation.