What are Medication Errors?
Medication errors are preventable events that occur as a result of the inappropriate use of medications. When a medication error is responsible for harm, it is known as a “preventable adverse drug event.” Medication errors that do not result in harm are called “potential adverse drug events.” Medication errors can involve:
- Inappropriate prescribing of a particular drug
- Under or over-prescribing a drug
- Administering the wrong drug
- Administering the wrong dosage of the right drug
- Administering the drug via the wrong route (i.e., IV vs. oral)
- Administering the drug too frequently or not frequently enough
- Failing to monitor a drug once administered
Medication errors can also occur from a mistake in writing the prescription, including illegible writing. Medication errors can be minor, causing little to no harm or serious, causing long-term damage or even death. If you or a loved one have suffered an injury due to a medication error, you could potentially have a medical malpractice claim. The Brothers Law Firm can help you determine whether you have a valid claim and, if so, can guide you through the process in the easiest way, answering all your questions along the way.
What Causes Medication Errors?
Medication errors can happen when your physician prescribes a drug, when you receive a drug at the hospital, when you pick up your prescription from the pharmacy, or in a senior living facility or another type of facility. Children are at exceptionally high risk for medication errors because of their age and low body weight. The most common causes of medication errors include:
- Illegible handwriting on the part of the prescriber
- Miscommunication or poor communication between doctors
- Miscommunication or poor communication between patient and doctor
- Drug names that sound alike
- Medications that look alike
- Medical abbreviations
How Often Do Medication Errors Occur?
The FDA reports receiving more than 100,000 United States reports each year regarding medication errors. A serious harmful result of a medication error includes death, a life-threatening situation, hospitalization, disability, or a congenital disability (birth defect). In truth, however, a relatively small percentage of medication errors are reported to the FDA. According to datarayusa.com, medication errors are responsible for as many as 7,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, and at least 1.5 million preventable adverse drug events occur annually.
This same source concluded that almost 40 percent of medication errors occur during the ordering process, 12 percent during the verification process, 11 percent during the preparation and dispensing process, and 38 percent during administration. As many as one in five medication doses administered in hospitals is given in error. However, the errors usually include the right medicine provided at the wrong time, and omission of a dose, which are unlikely to cause serious, irreparable harm.
What are the Most Common Types of Medication Errors?
The most common types of medication errors include:
- Prescribing errors
- Wrong drug preparation errors
- Omission errors
- Wrong time errors
- Fragmented care errors (lack of communication between physician and other healthcare professionals)
- Improper dose errors
- Improper administration errors
The most common causes of medication errors include distraction on the part of the healthcare professional, exhaustion on the part of the healthcare professional, other environmental factors that can lead to distractions, thus errors, lack of knowledge regarding how a drug works, incomplete patient understanding, lapses in memory of a healthcare professional, improperly labeled medications, medications with similar names placed nearby, or a lack of a bar code scanning system.
How to Report Medication Errors
A medication error may be reported by the individual involved or the person who discovered or witnessed the medication error. Nurses or pharmacists report the majority of medication errors. However, anyone associated with the error could make a report (patients, patients’ families, pharmacists, physicians, nurses, dentists, techs, medical vendors, healthcare assistants).
Consumers can report a suspected medication error to an external voluntary reporting program, the appropriate licensing board, the facility where the error occurred, the healthcare professional who made the error, or the FDA. A medication error can result in irreversible damage, pain, and even death, making healthcare providers’ responsibility to avoid such a tragic mistake.
Potential Damages from a Medication Error
While the damages resulting from a medical malpractice claim for a medication error will depend on the specific circumstances, the following damages may be recoverable:
- All medical expenses related to the injury, including hospital costs, physician and surgical costs, doctor visits, rehabilitative therapies, prescription medications, and assistive aids.
- Lost wages, if work is missed as a result of the injury. If the injured patient is unable to ever return to work, then lost future wages could also be part of the compensation.
- Impairment payments if the injuries have resulted in a partial or total disability, leaving the patient unable to participate in prior activities.
- Payment for disfigurement, if the negligence resulted in scars, missing or deformed body parts, or other types of disfigurement.
- Pain and suffering for any physical pain resulting from the negligence and the resulting injury.
- Mental anguish, including depression, distress, anxiety, or PTSD resulting from the injury.
- Loss of consortium encompasses loss of physical intimacy or companionship resulting from the injuries.
- Lost care, maintenance, services, support, advice, and counsel the deceased would have provided his or her surviving family member.
- Lost love, companionship, comfort, and society.
- Lost inheritance, including what the deceased would likely have saved and left to surviving family members if he or she had lived a normal expected lifetime.
How The Brothers Law Firm Can Help You Following a Serious Medication Error
After suffering serious injury or harm from a medication error, you should consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney from The Brothers Law Firm. The Brothers Law Firm has one mission and one focus—medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury claims. This is a crucial distinction for those seeking legal representation for such claims. We don’t just occasionally handle a medical malpractice claim; we manage them daily. This gives us the skills, resources, experience, and insight necessary to handle your medical malpractice claim resulting from a medication error, both efficiently and effectively.
At The Brothers Law Firm, we are never starting from scratch when we begin working on your medical malpractice claim. We are highly knowledgeable of the laws involved in medical malpractice and the process for a medical malpractice claim. We understand the issues that must be zeroed in on and the tenacity to defeat common insurance tactics. Our goal is to shield you from the difficulties associated with a medical malpractice claim, giving you the breathing space to heal from your injuries. Contact The Brothers Law Firm today for a comprehensive evaluation of your potential claim.