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Medical Malpractice: Prescription Errors

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When many people think of medical malpractice, they may think of a surgical error, such as a tool left inside a person’s abdomen. While this is a common type of malpractice, it does not occur as frequently as prescription errors. Prescription errors kill an average of one person a day and cause harm to more than 1 million Americans every year.

Prescription errors can occur in a doctor’s office, hospital or pharmacy environment. Virtually all of these errors are caused by human error and can be avoided. If you were harmed by a prescription error, discuss your case with a medical malpractice lawyer.

Causes of Prescription Errors

Prescription errors have many possible causes. They can occur at any level of the process, from ordering to prescribing to dispensing to preparation to administration. Most errors—more than 50 percent—are caused by dosage errors, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Doctors are often at fault for prescription errors. Their errors may involve the wrong dose, duration or frequency. In many cases, they prescribe the wrong drug altogether. Poor handwriting often contributes to this, but poor training and miscalculations also play a part, especially when it comes to overdoses.

On the other side of the spectrum, the patient could receive an insufficient dose of medication. This does nothing to help the condition, so the patient essentially goes untreated, leaving the condition to worsen. This can lead to a more serious medical issue or even death.

In hospital environments, staff shortages are a huge factor when it comes to prescription errors. When staff is limited, nurses and other staff are overworked. They attempt to do too many things at once. They lose their focus and quickly become stressed and fatigued. This often leads to incorrect doses and situations where the patients receive the wrong medication.

Communication errors are also common in hospital environments. Some patients may have prescriptions from multiple doctors. These doctors may not communicate with each other or with the nurses. In addition, many nurses care for a dozen or more patients daily. Nurses may not be able to keep track of every medication a patient takes, and this can lead to serious reactions, overdoses and other medical issues.

Pharmacists may cause prescription errors when they confuse a medication for one that looks or sounds similar. These are called look alike/sound alike mistakes. They may also confuse dosages. Instead of a 100 mg pill, they may prescribe a 1,000 mg one instead. They may also fail to check for interactions with a patient’s other medications, and this can lead to adverse events.

Have You Been Injured by Prescription Errors?

 Prescription errors and other forms of medical malpractice can cause serious injuries. Some medication errors cause serious reactions that can lead to internal damage and even death.

If you have been injured by negligence from a doctor or pharmacist, you have legal rights.  The personal injury attorneys at Mander Law Group can assess your case and help you obtain the compensation you deserve for medical bills, lost wages and other damages. Contact our Dade City office and schedule a free consultation by calling (800) 557-0411.

Resources:

who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2017/medication-related-errors/en/

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2723200/

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