Medication (pharmacy) errors harm an estimated 1.5 million people every year and cost at least $3.5 billion annually, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The Center also says that preventable medication errors (not all of which harm people, fortunately) impact more than 7 million patients and cost almost $21 billion annually. These types of errors can occur anytime during the process of selecting, prescribing, and dispensing medications.
When a drug or some other medication causes illness or death, a drug injury lawyer assists victims who wish to recover damages (financial compensation) for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other incurred costs; they may also seek punitive and wrongful death damages, if either applies. Though some of these mistakes may not be serious, many prescription errors can lead to a loved one’s death. In truth, more serious injuries occur because of defective drugs than prescription errors, the latter of which can fall under injury statutes governing either medical malpractice or personal injury, depending on the circumstances.
The Thread of Liability When Prescription Errors Further Harm Patients
Healthcare providers have an obligation to act in a manner the medical profession requires of any qualified provider in similar circumstances. This duty of care applies to physicians and healthcare providers in all specialties. Regarding the prescribing of medications, the healthcare provider’s duty is to be aware of the patient’s allergies or other medications they may be taking.
When the medical professional’s negligence is directly responsible for the injury, it is the causation of the damage to the patient’s health and completes the thread of liability that makes them a defendant in an injury lawsuit. This often results in their insurance company’s paying damages to the injured victim of their medical malpractice.
Prescription Errors: Someone Didn’t do Their Job Properly
Administering (or filling) the wrong medication occurs when the patient’s doctor prescribes the right drug, but the pharmacist or a pharmacy technician fills it with the wrong medication. Reasons for this occurrence include labeling errors, improper abbreviations, poor penmanship, and negligent pharmacy policies focused on speed and prescription volume over patient safety.
Dispensing the wrong dosage finds the patient’s doctor prescribing the correct medication and dosage, but the pharmacist or pharmacy tech transcribes the wrong dosage. This often happens when the transcriber rushes through this portion of their job and doesn’t check their work.
Other causes of pharmacy errors – which can also occur in a hospital – include:
- Confusing drugs that look alike or have similar sounding names
- Miscommunication between pharmacist and physician
- Pharmacist or doctor failing to protect against harmful drug interactions or identify drug allergies
- Failure of a pharmacist to provide adequate counseling.
But There are Still Too Many Defective Drugs on the Market
Big Pharma corporations have staggering amounts of money available to defend themselves from lawsuits when they distribute defective drugs. The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) management of the drug approval process, as well as warning the public when a defective drug is on the market, leaves much to be desired.
The FDA recalls at least one potentially harmful drug each and every month, yet studies suggest companies and regulators continue their lax notification to healthcare providers and patients about their substandard products.
Many defective drug lawsuits morph into a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) where groups of individual lawsuits related to a particular medication – maybe even in different jurisdictions or states – are grouped into one large case. Others may be grouped into a class action lawsuit.
Experienced Prescription Error Investigators and Lawyers
If you’ve suffered health complications and additional medical expenses due to a medication mistake, or a family member has died and you suspect a medication error, seek the advice and guidance of a team of attorneys with experience at investigating and pursuing prescription drug cases immediately!
Attorneys who defend the compensation rights of drug injury victims stay abreast of pharmaceutical recalls and potentially harmful medications. They also possess:
- The precise legal skills necessary to represent you in a prescription or over-the-counter medication case
- The resources to pursue your claim, including relationships with qualified experts, including pharmacy experts and leading consumer advocates for consultation and testimony.
The attorneys with Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law have successfully handled cases on behalf of clients who were injured after a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist failed to take proper care when prescribing, administering, or dispensing medication. If you or a family member suffers from a prescription error or defective medication, contact us quickly by filling out our online contact form or give us a toll-free call at (800) 444-5000.