How Do Medication Errors Happen?
September 9, 2022
People of all ages take medications prescribed for ongoing medical conditions as well as to treat one-time illnesses. These medications are intended to help the patient manage the condition, not cause further harm. However, medical errors are quite common, leading to injury or death. The most common type of this form of medical malpractice is medication errors, primarily when a health care provider prescribes the wrong dose or administers a drug that interacts dangerously in the patient’s body.
Medication errors can happen for a variety of reasons. Even well-intentioned doctors may fail to take all important variables into consideration when prescribing a medication. They may not know the type of drug a patient took before visiting the hospital, or they may not know if they will have an allergic reaction. Nurses and pharmacists make medication errors as well, many of which are avoidable. The wrong type of medication, wrong dosage, and lack of proper instruction can all lead to serious or fatal harm.
It is common for surgeons, nurses, and other medical staff to be overworked and tired. Some of them make medication-related mistakes while in a rush to treat other patients or when sleep deprived.
Some common causes of medication errors include:
- Fatigued and overworked health care providers.
- Improperly trained medical staff who are unfamiliar with the medication.
- Inadequate patient medical history.
- Lack of warnings.
- Poor communication between health care providers and patients.
- Sloppy handwriting.
- Poor risk perception.
- Bad record keeping.
- Alcohol or drug dependence.
Medication mistakes can happen at the beginning of a patient’s treatment and through their aftercare treatment.
What Are Common Types of Medication Errors?
Medication errors are very common and can occur in hospitals, pharmacies, and a variety of medical facilities. A health care provider may prescribe a medication meant to help you but ends up harming you instead. Hospital patients are especially vulnerable to medication errors, which are common with intravenous and injected medications.
The most common types of medication errors include:
- Prescription errors: Sometimes, doctors prescribe the wrong medication to treat a patient’s symptoms, a medication with dangerous side effects, or one that reacts badly with another medication the patient is prescribed.
- Administration errors: A nurse may administer an injection improperly, compromising the way it should be delivered to the patient’s body. Intravenous and oral medications may be mixed up. Surgical medication errors commonly occur when medications are administered through syringes and not properly labeled.
- Omission errors: This type of error happens when a health care provider neglects to prescribe the proper medication for a patient, or fails to give the next medication dose on the scheduled time.
- Dosage errors: Dosage errors occur when a health care provider prescribes or administers the wrong dose of a medication to a patient, and often happens when prescribers and medical staff fail to communicate properly.
- Fragmented care errors: Inadequate communication or miscommunication between prescribing doctors and other medical professionals can lead to fragmented care errors.
How Can Medication Errors Be Prevented?
It is crucial for patients to be advocates for their own health and take all actions to avoid being injured by a medication error. There are some ways to prevent medication errors, including:
- Stay familiar with your medication. Patients should make sure they are familiar with all aspects of a new medication, including its name, whether it is a generic form of the medication, how long it should be taken, the proper dosage, and how the medication might interact with alcohol or other medications.
- Pay attention to health care providers’ actions. Hospitalized patients should make sure nurses check your admission bracelet to ensure you are the right patient being prescribed the medication. It is a good idea to keep a list of your prescription medications and corresponding information with you at all times so you can give it to health care providers if you are admitted into a medical facility.
- Communicate about medications. Be sure to talk with your pharmacist whenever you are prescribed a new medication. It is important to ensure you are clear on the purpose and dosage of any unfamiliar medication. Taking part of the process can help avoid negative drug interactions, dosage errors, and other potential issues. This is particularly important anytime you acquire a new health care provider.
Despite taking all possible precautions, innocent patients may find themselves harmed by a health care provider’s medication error. These types of medical mistakes can have devastating and life-changing consequences. It is advisable for patients injured by a medical error to consult with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer.
What Should I Do if I Have an Injury From a Medication Error?
Medication errors can lead to severe and sometimes fatal injuries. When a health care provider is negligent and makes a mistake, the injured patient has a legal cause of action to seek compensation. Any patient who has suffered harm because of a medication error should contact a knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.
Patients who are injured due to a medication error can file a medical malpractice claim with the assistance of a lawyer and may seek compensation for damages, including:
- Medical expenses.
- Pain and suffering.
- Disabilities or permanent impairments.
- Loss of income and future earnings.
- Disfigurements and scarring.
- Emotional and mental trauma.
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
Successfully proving a medical malpractice claim requires the guidance of a medical malpractice lawyer who has connections with medical experts. It is essential that a medical expert reviews your case to identify the standard of care that should have been used under the circumstance. Medical experts can also identify how a health care provider’s conduct deviated from the acceptable standard of care.
Galfand Berger LLP Can Handle Your Medical Malpractice Case
Galfand Berger LLP has decades of experience representing medical malpractice clients and has developed a reputation for achieving successful results:
- Multi-million dollar settlement in faulty heart device case. When their 5-month-old baby died after a heart operation, our clients reached out to us for help. After quick and thorough investigation, our team of medical malpractice lawyers discovered that the young child died because his doctors failed to recognize that a device implanted in his heart was not working. We teamed up with world-famous experts and proved that the implanted device was defective and not fit for use in the type of heart surgery that lead to the death of the child. We pursued claims of medical malpractice and products liability against all parties responsible for this baby boy’s death. We litigated the case for several years and ultimately reached a confidential multi-million dollar settlement for our clients.
Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Advocate for Patients Who Have Been Injured by Medication Errors
If you have suffered harm because of a medication error, do not hesitate to contact one of our Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP. We will help with your medical malpractice claim based on a medication error. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or fill out our online form. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients across New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.