Richmond Medication Error Attorneys
Protecting patients injured by prescription mistakes in Virginia
Medication errors, including improperly written or filled prescriptions, dosing mistakes, or giving medications that have dangerous interactions with other drugs, occur every day in the United States. Phelan Petty has experience handling cases involving significant injuries caused by medication related malpractice against doctors, nurses, hospitals, and pharmacies.
Medication errors – the statistics
The Mayo Clinic’s report “Medication Errors: An Overview for Clinicians” provides an analysis regarding why medication mistakes occur and how future research might improve safety measures. The report describes that medication errors cause one out of every 131 outpatient deaths and one out of every 854 inpatient deaths.
What are common types of medication errors in Richmond?
Injuries caused by dosing errors, drug interactions, or other medication related malpractice result from a variety of different scenarios. Among the most common include:
- Failing to examine a patient’s medical history. If a doctor fails to properly investigate a patient’s history, including allergies and previous adverse reactions to a drug, that patient can suffer serious and preventable side effects and injuries from a contraindicated medication.
- Incorrect dosage. An excessive dosage of a medication can cause extreme side effects or even an overdose. On the other hand, an insufficient or inadequate dose of a medication can fail to accomplish the therapeutic effect desired to treat the condition it is intended to treat. Either error might constitute malpractice depending on the circumstances.
- Mixing medications. A doctor may sometimes prescribe a medication that, when mixed when another drug the patient is currently taking, can cause an adverse effect. Or, a doctor may mistakenly prescribe a medication that could neutralize the effect of another drug. Both prescribing doctors and filling pharmacies must always be vigilant for potential drug interactions.
- Sudden change in medication. If a patient suddenly stops using one medication to go on another, or changes their medication regimen without proper instruction, they can suffer adverse or life-threatening side effects.
- Wrong medication. If a doctor or other medical professional fails to follow protocol and misidentifies a patient or chart, a patient could receive the incorrect medicine. This could result in injury or harm.
The Richmond medication error attorneys at Phelan Petty can consult with you about your injuries, how they occurred and investigate every detail of your case.
Why do medication errors happen?
Prescription and drug information is increasingly computerized. The goal of this technology is to reduce errors in the prescription and distribution of medications. Despite improvements in the system, human error and software failures still occur and lead to mistakes involving prescription drugs. The National Institutes of Health, in their Patient Safety and Quality handbook, lists the five stages of medication administration, and note these five stages can be error-prone.
- Ordering and prescribing. If an error occurs at this stage, it can set off a domino-like series of mistakes that may lead to the patient receiving the wrong medication, leading to allergic reactions or improper treatment.
- Transcribing and verifying. When transcribing a physician’s order, spelling errors or illegible writing can contribute to medication mistakes. Prescriptions should always be verified by another staff member or through electronic means.
- Dispensing and delivering. On the pharmacy side, a pharmacist may make errors like filling an order with the incorrect medicine, or mix up two patients’ orders. This can result in multiple patients receiving the wrong medication.
- Administering. An error can happen at this stage of the medication process if a medical professional fails to give a patient the correct dosage of a medication, or fails to give the dosage according to schedule. These errors can also include administering injectable or IV drugs at the wrong rate.
- Monitoring and reporting. A patient’s doctor, as well as hospital staff, should regularly check on their reaction to medication. Any negative side effects and progress should be thoroughly noted in their medical history.
What is the difference between a medication error and a side effect?
A side effect and a medication error are two different things. A medication error is preventable, and can lead to serious injury or even death. A side effect, on the other hand, is not always preventable and not always an error. Any type of medication, from prescription to over-the-counter, can cause unpleasant side effects even when administered properly. Before taking any medication, a patient should carefully read the warning and prescription label to make sure that it is appropriate for them.
It is worth noting that if an injury is caused by dangerous or defective medication, you may be eligible to seek compensation under product liability law.
What kind of damages can I seek in a Virginia medication error case?
Our Richmond attorneys can seek to recover a variety of damages on your behalf if you experience injury due to a medication error. These include:
- Medical expenses, current and future
- Lost wages and future earning potential
- Pain and suffering
The attorneys at Phelan Petty have extensive medical knowledge and a history of obtaining successful outcomes for victims of malpractice. Our team is ready to begin building a strategic case for you and work to secure the compensation you deserve.