When a person is injured as the result of being prescribed an incorrect drug, an incorrect dosage of a drug, or is given incorrect instructions for taking a medication by a doctor, health professional or pharmacist, this may constitute medical malpractice. Moreover, when a person is injured due to a medication error, the victim may be eligible to file a personal injury claim against the parties that are responsible for causing the medication error.
Medication errors occur all too frequently and in a various settings. For instance:
- While at the hospital, a nurse may make a mistake and administer the wrong medication to a patient, or may administer a medication via an improper route (i.e., administering a drug intravenously when the drug should only be taken orally);
- A doctor may make a mistake on an individual’s prescription and prescribe a wrong drug with a name similar to the correct drug, or prescribe an incorrect dosage;
- A pharmacist may misread a prescription or may make a mistake when filling the prescription;
- In a nursing home, staff may mix up the medications prescribed to one nursing home resident with the medication prescribed to another nursing home resident; or
- In a nursing home, staff could mistakenly, or purposely, give a resident medication to control the elderly resident’s behavior.
Several individuals are in a position to cause harm to a victim by mishandling medication. Pharmaceutical malpractice claims can be filed against doctors, medical staff, hospitals and pharmacies.
What Could Go Wrong?
When a doctor or medical professional makes a mistake concerning someone’s medication, the health consequences to the victim could be severe, or even life threatening.
- Drug interactions: An individual might be prescribed a medication that can react poorly when mixed with certain other drugs.
- Contraindications: Some drugs can exacerbate medical conditions or can cause serious health problems, leaving a victim injured, disabled, or even dead.
- Side effects: A victim who is prescribed the wrong drug could suffer unpleasant or injurious side effects from taking a drug that he or she does not need.
- Too much or too little medication: Being prescribed too much or too little of a drug can have serious consequences on a person’s health. With too little medication, the individual may not receive the benefits of the drug that he or she needs. However, too much medication may result in the individual being harmed. Organs, such as the liver, kidneys, and heart can suffer when an individual is given too much of a powerful drug.
Medication Errors Are Often Preventable
Medication errors are often preventable and are typically the result of negligence. Studies conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have determined that most medication errors are the result of:
- Improper communication;
- Misinterpreted handwriting;
- Confusion about the name of a drug;
- Confusion over drug labeling, packaging or directions; and
- Lack of health care provider knowledge about the drug or its proper administration.
If you have suffered harm after being prescribed or administered the wrong drug, please speak with an experienced Illinois medical malpractice attorney today. Our firm serves the communities of the northwest suburbs, including Crystal Lake, Schaumburg, Palatine, Barrington, Long Grove, Arlington Heights, South Barrington, Riverwoods, and Des Plaines.
About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.