The Most Common Prescription Drug Errors
Prescription medications are critical to the well-being of millions of patients in the US. It is every prescribing doctor’s legal responsibility to properly order medications according to a patient’s unique needs, just as it is every pharmacy’s duty to correctly fill and administer prescriptions. Unfortunately, many entities in the health care industry fail to meet their standards of care to patients, resulting in dangerous and sometimes fatal prescription drug errors.
Most Frequent Medication Mistakes in Boston
In the US, an estimated 7,000 to 9,000 people die each year due to medication errors. Hundreds of thousands of other patients experience adverse symptoms, injuries and illnesses because of medication mistakes. Prescription drug errors cost around $40 billion in health costs annually. One of the first steps in preventing prescription errors is understanding the most common reasons why they happen. Many acts of negligence or carelessness during patient care could result in a dangerous medication mistake.
- Failing to check a patient’s medical history
- Failing to prevent adverse drug interactions
- Forgetting to ask about a patient’s medication allergies
- Prescribing the incorrect medicine
- Writing down the wrong dosage or route
- Using confusing or incorrect abbreviations
- Not communicating with the patient’s other health care providers
- Mixing up two or more patients
- Filling a prescription incorrectly
- Administering the incorrect drug or dosage
- Failing to monitor the patient or follow up
- Prescribing dangerous drugs with manufacturing defects
A medication mistake can occur at any phase of a patient’s care: prescribing, documenting, transcribing, dispensing, administering or patient monitoring. The party liable for the patient’s injuries or death will be the one most at fault for causing the prescription error. This could be a physician, pharmacy, hospital, drug manufacturer, nurse or another party in Boston depending on the circumstances. It often takes an investigation by a Boston medical malpractice lawyer to identify the appropriate defendant for a prescription error lawsuit in Boston.
Why Do Medication Errors Occur?
Medication errors are generally preventable. They occur when someone in charge of a patient’s health care, treatment plan or prescription management behaves negligently or wantonly. Common issues that lead to prescription errors include distraction, carelessness, fatigue, lack of preparedness, too large of a caseload and failure to communicate.
Ordering errors are the most common cause of prescription mistakes, occurring in almost 50% of harmful prescription error cases. Ordering errors can refer to a physician prescribing or writing down the wrong drug, dose, route or frequency. Nurses and pharmacists catch anywhere between 30% and 70% of ordering errors. Unnoticed errors, however, can lead to the patient receiving the incorrect drug or instructions – often causing serious harm.
Lawsuits for Prescription Drug Errors
A preventable prescription drug error could give a patient an injury, illness or adverse drug reaction. It could also interfere with the patient’s treatment plan and lead to a worsened prognosis for recovery. In the most severe instances, a prescription mistake can cause wrongful patient death. If a prescribing physician or another party does something a reasonable and prudent person would not have under the same circumstances, an injured patient may have grounds for a lawsuit. The party guilty of the negligence-related error could be legally responsible for the patient’s damages.
A medical malpractice lawsuit for a prescription drug error could hold one or more negligent parties accountable for a patient’s related damages. A patient could receive payment for his or her physical pain, emotional distress, medical bills, lost wages, wrongful death damages and other losses in a successful malpractice suit. To bring a lawsuit, however, the patient (or his or her lawyer) must have proof of the defendant’s breach of duty of care. Navigating Massachusetts’s complicated medical malpractice laws during a medication mistake lawsuit can be easier with assistance from a plaintiff’s attorney.