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Medical Malpractice Due To Medication Errors & Prescription Mistakes

Medical malpractice related to medication errors and prescription mistakes is a serious and potentially harmful issue. Medication errors can occur at various stages of the healthcare process, from prescribing to administering medications. These errors can lead to serious consequences for patients, including adverse drug reactions, worsening of medical conditions, and even death. Here are some common types of medication errors and ways to prevent them:

Types of medication errors

  1. Prescription Errors:
    • Illegible Handwriting: Poor handwriting on prescriptions can lead to mistakes in interpreting the medication.
    • Abbreviation Errors: Misinterpretation of abbreviations can result in the wrong medication being dispensed.
    • Wrong Dosage: Prescribing the wrong dosage or frequency of medication can cause serious harm.

    Prevention: Use electronic prescribing systems, clearly print prescriptions, and avoid ambiguous abbreviations. Verification of prescriptions by a second healthcare professional can also be helpful.

  2. Dispensing Errors:
    • Similar-sounding Medications: Dispensing medications with names that sound alike can result in confusion.
    • Look-Alike Packaging: Similar packaging can lead to the wrong medication being dispensed.

    Prevention: Implement strict verification processes, use barcode scanning systems, and educate pharmacy staff about the importance of double-checking medications.

  3. Administration Errors:
    • Wrong Patient: Administering medication to the wrong patient.
    • Incorrect Route: Administering the medication through the wrong route (e.g., oral instead of intravenous).
    • Missed Doses: Failure to administer prescribed doses as scheduled.

    Prevention: Implement barcode scanning systems, use patient identifiers, and provide thorough training for healthcare providers on medication administration protocols.

  4. Monitoring Errors:
    • Failure to Monitor: Inadequate monitoring of a patient’s response to medication.
    • Failure to Adjust Dosage: Neglecting to adjust medication dosage based on a patient’s changing condition.

    Prevention: Establish clear guidelines for monitoring patients on specific medications and ensure regular follow-up assessments.

  5. Communication Errors:
    • Lack of Communication: Poor communication between healthcare providers can lead to errors in medication management.

    Prevention: Encourage open communication among healthcare team members, use standardized protocols, and ensure proper documentation of medication-related information.

Consult with a legal professional specializing in medical malpractice

If you believe you have been a victim of medical malpractice due to medication errors, it’s crucial to consult with a legal professional specializing in medical malpractice. They can help you assess the situation, gather relevant evidence, and guide you through the legal process if you decide to pursue a claim. Additionally, healthcare providers and institutions should continuously strive to improve systems and implement safeguards to minimize the risk of medication errors.

According to the article “Ten common but preventable errors,” by Melanie Haiken every year 1.5 million people are sickened or severely injured by medication mistakes and 100,000 people die. These errors are mistakes and are “avoidable” medical errors. If a doctor makes a mistake when prescribing a medication or there is a medical mistake due to the medication prescribed, you may have means for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Most Common Medication Mistakes

When taking a medication or being prescribed one, you have to be smart and protect yourself so that an error does not take place. As a resource for our clients, we are providing a list of the top ten medication errors experts say are most likely to kill or cause serious harm to a patient. All information is tailored from “Ten common but preventable errors.” These include:

1.Confusing two medications with similar names – This can happen if the doctor’s handwriting is illegible on the prescription, pharmacy gives patient wrong drug or enters wrong information into computer for example.

2.Taking two or more drugs that interact with each other – Every drug has a side effect to it and sometimes when you are taking more than one drug at the same time, the interaction between the two are not always good. When being prescribed a medication by a doctor, they should know not to prescribe two drugs that will not interact together properly.

3.Overdosing on one or more medication that have the same properties – Different medications may be prescribed to you to treat all different conditions, but the drugs itself all have the same combined effect which can cause a risk of overdose. A doctor should make sure when they are prescribing a drug that they do not prescribe two drugs that have the same properties.

4.Taking the wrong dosage of medication – Medication are prescribed in a variety of units of measure that are usually abbreviated or symbolized. A misplaced decimal place or a misread dosage can cause a serious problem to a patient. A pharmacy can sometimes make the mistake of reading the prescription wrong or a doctor may accidently prescribe the wrong amount.

5.Mixing your medication with alcohol – Whether a patient thinks it’s okay to have a drink with their medication or there was no warning sign on the bottle telling you not to drink the fact of the matter is alcohol can have a dangerous interaction with over the counter drugs as well as prescription drugs.

6.Double dosing by taking the brand name and generic version of the drug – A patient may not realize the brand name drug they are taking is the same as the generic brand they were prescribed therefore, overdosing on the medication. This is very common due to the fact insurance companies are mandating the use of generic drugs whenever they are available.

7.Taking a prescription drug with an over the counter drug – Many people think that taking an over the counter medication is safe, but sometimes the most common over the counter drug can have serious reactions if you are taking a prescription drug that does not interact well together.

8.Not knowing the interaction your medication and your diet – When being prescribed a new prescription, you should always ask your doctor if the medication should be taken with food, without food, or if there are particular dietary issues you should know about. For example, many prescription medications should not be taken with grapefruit juice due to its unique properties that cause a medication to become inactive or overactive.

9.Failing to adjust medication dosages – If a patient loses a kidney or liver, the dosage of medication they are taking should be decreased. This is because without your liver or kidney, the body’s ability to rid itself of toxins or foreign substances is impaired, which can cause the body to build up a higher dosage in the body then anticipated. A doctor who is well aware of your medical history should know to decrease the dosage if you do not have a kidney or liver.

10.Taking a medication that is not safe due to your age – Our bodies’ process medications differently as we age, so certain drugs that cause side effects such as dementia or dizziness should not be taken by an older person. Due to this fact, doctors should be careful when prescribing a medication to an older individual, particularly over the age of 65.

The negligent medical provider may be liable for significant damages

The negligent medical provider may be liable for significant damages for the failure to provide appropriate treatment, especially when the injuries and damages caused by the improper treatment are substantial. An individual who suffer injuries due to a doctors, nurse, hospital, or surgeon’s miskate may have means for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Legal Notice per Rules of Professional Responsibility: The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers and attorneys in the general practice of law, but does not license or certify any lawyer / attorney as an expert or specialist in any field of practice. While this firm maintains joint responsibility, most cases of this type are referred to other attorneys for principle responsibility.

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