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Are Prescription Errors Medical Malpractice? Who Is to Blame?

Patients visit a doctor to feel better and to stay healthy. Everyone relies on their medical team to provide them with the treatments and medication that keep them strong, healthy, and comfortable. It is traumatizing when a medication that is supposed to heal a body causes illness — or worse. Thankfully, a prescription error is covered under medical malpractice laws. 


Hurriedly Prescribed

Mistakes happen when offices are too busy and the doctors and nurses are not given the time they need to talk with their patients. Patients do not get the full attention they need, and mistakes are made. A doctor in a rush may not ask the important questions that could have prevented a tragedy.

For example, a physician prescribes a pain medication that leads to a miscarriage because they did not realize the patient was pregnant. This is something that should never happen and could easily have been avoided by asking a single question. 

Another issue is when a patient has attended the same clinic for years for the same chronic problem. Unfortunately, conditions can change, and if the doctor is just routinely prescribing the same medication without an exam it is possible for the drug to potentially cause more harm than help. 

Carelessly Given

Every state in the United States currently has at least one community suffering from an opioid crisis. Sadly, a lot of the blame has been given to the doctors who carelessly prescribed these potent drugs to their patients without enough concern over the long-term consequences. The law has become involved with the Drug Enforcement Administration setting some restrictions regarding how to use the painkillers. 

Irresponsible behavior with opioids could include a doctor allowing a patient to be on the drug for too long, prescribing someone a dosage that is too strong, or choosing a narcotic when other options are available. Another potential malpractice case could arise if the doctor prescribes opioids to someone with a known history of addiction. 

Wrongly Chosen

Sometimes the medication was right for the condition but wrong for the patient. Perhaps it was a medication that should never be given to someone with high blood pressure or the patient has allergies that made the drug dangerous for them. It may even be a matter of it interacting with a drug the individual is already using. 

Patients can do some research to make certain their medication is safe for them, and pharmacists will often catch potential medication interactions and contact the doctor. However, the doctor is the one with the responsibility of making certain their actions do not harm their patients. 

Accurately Blaming

Not all medication errors are the fault of the physician. Pharmacists also make mistakes that can have serious consequences. The information printed on the label could be inaccurate and instruct the patient to take the wrong dosage. The drug in the bottle may not be correct or may be the wrong dosage size. The drug may even have been overlooked on the shelf and be expired. 

Another issue is when the medication is tainted during the manufacturing process or there are previously unreported side effects that cause medical emergencies. Patients have the right to file malpractice claims against manufacturers as well as their doctor or pharmacist when they are injured. 

Successfully Protecting

Stop taking a drug and immediately call the physician when an illness or unusual side effect is noticed. Keep the original containers and paperwork for all medication as well as any remaining product. Record any conversations with medical staff or pharmacists regarding the problem with the medication. Keep all receipts and notes. 

Medical malpractice is a common complaint discussed by clients at Carlson, Blau and Clemens SC. Unfortunately, not all doctors, pharmacists, and drug manufacturers are as careful as they need to be. Contact us if you have been injured because of a prescription error of some kind. We will do all we can to help you receive compensation and to prevent anyone else from injury. Patients visit a doctor to feel better and to stay healthy. Everyone relies on their medical team to provide them with the treatments and medication that keep them strong, healthy, and comfortable. It is traumatizing when a medication that is supposed to heal a body causes illness — or worse. Thankfully, a prescription error is covered under medical malpractice laws.