When is a Prescription Drug Error Medical Malpractice, and Who Can Be Held Responsible?
The bottom line is that dangerous, sometimes life-threatening, prescription drug errors happen every day. For the error to rise to the level of medical malpractice, you have to prove that a medical caregiver has been negligent. Negligence can be demonstrated for a wide variety of reasons, anything from giving someone the wrong drug or dosage to prescribing a drug which has an adverse reaction with another drug the patient is taking, to neglecting to warn a patient of dangerous side effects.
Anyone involved in the error can potentially be held accountable and sued. This includes a doctor or nurse, a pharmacist (or pharmacy), a drug manufacturer or a hospital, depending on the nature of the mistake.
Incorrect Drug Administration
Many cases of prescription drug malpractice involve simply giving a patient the wrong drug, or giving him the right drug, but in the wrong dosage. People generally put their trust in healthcare providers and follow their orders, but even doctors and nurses with the best of intentions make mistakes, and making mistakes is more common and easier than you would think. It can be something as simple as placing a decimal point in the wrong place, or a pharmacist misreading a doctor’s or physician assistant’s handwriting (in which case, to answer the question at the top of this article, the doctor can be held responsible), or giving an injection in the wrong place.
Dangerous Drug Interactions
Generally, the law will hold a pharmacist responsible when you take two prescription drugs which produce a dangerous interaction. This assumes, of course, that both drugs were obtained from the same pharmacy (which is a reason you should use only one pharmacy for all your drugs). Your pharmacist should also have records of any drug allergies from which you suffer and ensure you don’t take any drug which triggers one.
This is a fancy word for side effects. Virtually every prescription drug comes from its manufacturer with a list of potentially dangerous side effects. It is the job of both the physician and the pharmacist to provide you with sufficient warning of what those side effects are, and what actions on your part might trigger them (such as eating certain foods). When you don’t receive that warning and are hurt as a result, you can take legal action.
What You Need to Do When a Prescription Drug Error Has Occurred
If you begin to feel ill after taking a prescription drug and think an error might have occurred, your first step should be to contact your doctor and/or pharmacist and, if necessary, seek immediate medical assistance. If you find out that there was an error, and if you suffered harm as a result, you should contact a personal injury lawyer who will determine if negligence took place and, if it did, will work to get you the compensation you deserve.
For more information about prescription drug errors and other forms of medical malpractice, contact us today.