Prescription medication is intended to serve as a cure for an illness or even save your life. When a patient needs medication for a short-term or chronic illness, we expect doctors to prescribe the proper type and amount of medication. We assume our doctors make sure the medication will not interact with other prescribed medications. We also expect a pharmacist to fill the prescription properly and as written. Unfortunately, in the United States today, prescription medication error is a common occurrence. Many people are injured or even killed when they unknowingly take the wrong dose or the wrong type of medication.
The error is completely preventable in most cases. Especially when negligence of a physician, hospital, pharmacy or caregiver causes it. If you’ve been injured by a prescription medication error, you will probably incur expenses from medical bills, hospital stays and lost wages. You may also experience damages as a result of your pain and suffering. You should consult an attorney who is familiar with prescription medication error law. An experienced attorneys, like the attorneys at Farris, Riley & Pitt will help to study the facts, review the medical or pharmacy records and utilize our experts to determine the cause of your injury. Then, we can make sure you achieve justice, and receive compensation for your injuries. In the terrible event your loved one has died as a result of a prescription medication error, we can help you navigate a wrongful death lawsuit under Alabama law. We handle everything with speed, care, and compassion.
The Statistics Show an Alarming Number of Prescription Medication Errors Occurring Each Year
Every year, prescription medication errors account for a troublesome amount of personal injuries, hospitalizations and even deaths in this country. 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 to include “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 are a particularly unfortunate type of personal injury. Patients are often at the mercy of their doctors or pharmacists and are completely unaware that they are taking the wrong medicine or an improper dose. And medication errors are usually undetected until injury or death occurs and an investigation ensues. When a person who you trust causes an injury such as a medication error, the emotional and physical scars can be quite devastating.
Physician or Hospital Causes Medication Error
The source of prescription medication errors is often the physician, hospital, or healthcare professional who prescribes the drug. Common mistakes often occur. A physician may be negligent by prescribing a medication that a patient is allergic to.A physician may also fail to consider the adverse reactions a new drug has with the drugs a patient is already taking. Or the drug can adversely affect the patient’s other medical problems. 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 an incorrect dosage or the wrong type of drug altogether.
Pharmacy Causes Medication Error
Prescription medication error often occurs at the pharmacy level. Pharmacies make many common mistakes. One is when the pharmacist is unable to read the physician’s prescription and therefore gives someone medication that has the wrong dosage or even the wrong medication. Doctors are well-known for their bad handwriting, and this communication error is the cause of many prescription errors.
Pharmacists also can misread a prescription and prepare incorrect dosage amounts or confuse the amount of drug prescribed with the number of times a day dispensed. Other common pharmacy errors include mislabeling medication, confusing two similar medications, administering the wrong dose, or distributing medicine to the wrong person, or failing to provide the proper manufacturer’s warning for the medication. 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 and duration of the mistake.
Errors Occur When Administering Medication
Many prescription medication errors occur when administering the drug. For example, an exhausted or poorly trained hospital staffer can mistakenly give the patient double doses of the same medicine or forget to give the patient his or her dose of medicine at all. Similarly, hospital staffers have given patients medication that is intended for someone else, causing severe injuries or even death. Administration errors can also occur outside of hospital settings. Caregivers that are paid to take care of patients at home or in assisted living facilities can make similar medication mistakes.
Prescription Errors Usually Preventable
The reason you should strongly consider pursuing a lawsuit against the individual or institution that injured you in the case of prescription medication error is simple. It is because prescription errors are easily preventable and are often caused by negligence or medical malpractice. Some suggestions you or your healthcare provider can follow that may reduce the incidences of prescription medication error include:
Ask your doctor to use computerized prescription forms to avoid errors caused by your doctor’s scrawled handwriting.
Require dosages to be in milligrams, not teaspoons or tablespoons. The variation among different tablespoons and teaspoons makes dosage errors easy.
Ask the pharmacy for dosage cup or syringe for every prescription filled.
Carry a list of all the medications you take and review with the doctor, hospital and pharmacy for potential drug interactions.
Remind doctors and pharmacists of any 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 is dispensed to avoid multiple dosing.
Statute of Limitations
Lawsuits in the State of Alabama are always subject to the Statute of Limitations. The Statute of Limitations is a law that governs 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 particular facts of the case. Unfortunately, especially in personal injury cases, these time periods can be very short. If you or a loved one has been injured or died as a result of a prescription medication error, you should meet with your lawyer as soon as possible. Quick legal action after the injury has occurred will help you to avoid Statute of Limitations problems when filing your lawsuit.
Contact Us for Help
Since opening its doors in 1996, the attorneys at Farris, Riley & Pitt have been expertly handling personal injury cases. They have helped countless clients with cases pertaining to prescription medication errors and can help you too. The caring and compassionate attorneys at Farris, Riley & Pitt know that hospitalization costs, medical expenses, and lost wages can have a terrible financial and emotional impact on someone’s life. And worse, the emotional toll of losing a loved one can be devastating.
Let Alabama lawyers Farris, Riley & Pitt help you to achieve justice and compensation for your injuries. To learn if you have a claim in the event you or someone you love 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. Our knowledgeable legal staff can provide emergency assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week through our toll-free lawyer assistance line at 1-888-937-7534. Act swiftly to preserve your rights.
United States Food and Drug Administration, Medication Errors, http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/MedicationErrors/default.htm