When a child is sick, most parents rely on their doctors or other licensed health care professionals to provide them with a prescription for the proper amount and type of medicine to cure the child’s illness. Parents also rely on pharmacies to fill these prescriptions as written. Unfortunately, it is increasingly common to see children suffer injuries or even death in drastic cases, from a prescription medication error. Children and the elderly are the two demographics most susceptible to prescription medication error.
In most cases the error is preventable and probably due to the negligence of your physician, a hospital, a pharmacy, a caregiver or nanny. If you suspect your child has been injured by a prescription medication error, it’s important that you consult an attorney that is familiar with child medication error law. An experienced attorney, like the attorneys at Farris, Riley & Pitt will help you through the heartbreaking time after a child has been injured. We can study the facts, review the medical records and utilize our experts to determine the cause of your child’s injury. Then, we can make sure you achieve justice, and you receive compensation for your child’s medical bills, living expenses and pain and suffering. In the terrible event your child has died, we can help you navigate a wrongful death lawsuit under Alabama law. We handle everything with speed, caring, and compassion.
The Statistics Show an Alarming Number of Prescription Medication Errors Occurring Each Year
Medication errors account for a troublesome amount of personal injuries, hospitalizations and even deaths throughout the country each year. According to statistics issued by the Center for Disease Control, 700,000 emergency department visits and 120,000 hospitalizations are due to prescription medication error each year.
The National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention defines medication errors as “any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient, or consumer…including prescribing; order communication; product labeling, packaging, and nomenclature; compounding; dispensing; distribution; administration; education; monitoring; and use.”Medication errors can occur at many levels. They can stem from physician error, pharmacy error, or even parent or caregiver error.
Physician or HospitalCauses Medication Errors in Mobile & Montgomery Alabama
The source of prescription medication errors is often physician, hospital, or other healthcare professional prescribing the drug. There are many common mistakes made. A physician can negligently prescribe a medication even though the patient has allergies to that drug. Or a physician may fail to consider the adverse interactions a new drug has with medicine a patient is already taking. A physician may also fail to take into account the patient’s medical history when prescribing a drug. For example, certain drugs can be very harmful if prescribed to patients with liver or kidney problems, or hypertension or diabetes. Other ways physicians can harm patients when prescribing drugs is by prescribing the wrong dose or the wrong drug altogether.
Pharmacy Causes Medication Error
Pharmacies also cause prescription medication error. There are many mistakes pharmacies can make that lead to prescription medication error. A common mistake is when they can’t read the physician’s prescription and therefore give someone the wrong medication or the wrong dosage of a medication. Doctors are well-known for their bad handwriting, and this communication error is the cause of many prescription errors.
Pharmacists can also simply misread a prescription by confusing decimal placement for dosages, or mixing up the amount of drug prescribed with the number of times a day dispensed.
Pharmacists can also mislabel medication, confuse two similar medications, administer the wrong dose, or distribute medicine to the wrong person. Any of these mistakes can cause a person to become very sick or even die, depending on the age and medical condition of the person and the severity of the mistake.
Error When Administering Medication
Many prescription medication errors occur when administering the drug. For example, an overworked hospital staff member can mistakenly give the patient double doses of medicine or forget to give the patient his or her dose of medicine at all. Similarly, medications are often mixed up among patients in a hospital environment. Parents and caregivers of children often do not pay enough attention to proper dosing. They often give children too much or too little medication. There are also many reported incidents where parents or caregivers administer the wrong medication to children.
Children Are Particularly Vulnerable to Prescription Medication Error
A 2014 study, published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, released a startling statistic. The study found that in this country, a child is given the wrong dosage or the wrong medication at the rate of every eight minutes.If this number doesn’t seem astounding, perhaps this one will. Nearly 700,000 children under sixyears old experienced an out-of-hospital medication error between 2002 and 2012.Twenty-five percent of these children were under the age of one-year-old. These errors lead to 25 deaths and 1,900 hospital admissions where the child required critical care.
Children, especially young children and infants, are particularly vulnerable to injuries when they fall prey to prescription medication errors. Children’s immune systems and other bodily functions such as liver and kidney functions can be less developed than adults. Children also metabolize medication differently than adults. Moreover, children require much smaller doses of medicine than adults, making overmedication much more harmful.
Children are also particularly prone to receiving wrong doses of medication. Studies show that approximately one in every eighteen prescriptions written for children involve errors linked to the type of medication or dosage. Children cannot receive adult doses of medicine, yet are often prescribed medicine intended for adults. Converting the adult dosage to pediatric dosage can sometimes involve tricky formulas and is often the basis for mistakes. For children, doctors often prescribe liquid medication where the dosage depends on factors such as height and weight. Physicians or other health care professionals often miscalculate, giving children harmful overdoses or in some situations, equally harmful under doses.
Because young children are typically not allowed to administer medicine to themselves, they are at the mercy of caregivers to ensure they receive the proper medication and dose. Children are often at risk of receiving the wrong dose of medicine or even the wrong medicine altogether from caregivers or even parents. Studies have shown that parents often double up on drug doses by not realizing that another parent or family member already administered the medication. It is also common to give a child the wrong medication when there are a lot of medications in the house that look or sound similar. This type of careless behavior can also come from any caregiver, such as a nanny or a daycare center that owes your child a duty to provide reasonable care.
Prescription Errors Usually Preventable
The reason you should consider pursuing a lawsuit against whoever caused your child’s injury by prescription error is simple. It is because prescription errors are easily preventable and often caused by a person’s negligence or medical malpractice. Some suggestions you or your healthcare provider can follow that may reduce the incidences of child prescription medication error include:
Have physicians use preprinted prescription forms or computerized forms. Doing so will avoid many communication errors caused by physicians’ scrawled handwriting.
Require dosages to be in milligrams, not teaspoons or tablespoons. There is so much variation among tablespoons and teaspoons that children can easily be given too big or too little of a dose.
Ask thepharmacy for dosage cup or syringe for every prescription filled.
Carry a list of all the medications your child takes and review with the physician, hospital and pharmacy for potential drug interactions.
Remind physicians and pharmacists of child’s pre-existing medical conditions, such as kidney or liver disease.
Ask your pharmacist about potential interactions with other drugs and side effects.
Keep a log or require caregivers to keep a log of when and how much medication was dispensed to your child to avoid multiple dosing.
Statute of Limitations
In the State of Alabama, lawsuits are governed by what’s called a Statute of Limitations. A Statute of Limitations lays out the amount of time a person has to file a lawsuit before the lawsuit will be barred or not allowed. It varies depending on the type of lawsuit and the facts of the case. Unfortunately, these time periods can sometimes be very short.If your child has been injured by a prescription medication error, you should meet with your lawyer as soon as possible after the accident.Acting soon after the injury has occurred will help you to avoid Statute of Limitations problems when filing your lawsuit.
Contact Us for Help
The attorneys at Farris, Riley & Pitt have been expertly handling personal injury cases since 1996. They have helped countless clients with cases pertaining to child prescription medication errors and can help you too. The caring and compassionate attorneys at Farris, Riley & Pitt know the terrible impact child injury can have on someone’s life. Hospitalization costs, medical expenses, and lost wages can be financially devastating to a family. The emotional toll of having an injured child is hard to put a price on.
Let Alabama lawyers Farris, Riley& Pitt help you to achieve justice. To learn more about whether you have a claim in the event your child has suffered a prescription medication error, contact us at your earliest convenience. Our evaluations and consultations are always free of charge.You can reach Farris, Riley & Pitt by calling 205-324-1212 or toll-free at 1-888-580-5176. For emergency assistance, our knowledgeable legal staff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week when you contact our toll-free lawyer assistance line at 1-888-937-7534.