Medical malpractice takes many forms, and the term generally describes any situation in which a medical professional fails to uphold the acceptable standard of care for the given situation. Prescription drug errors are a common cause of medical malpractice claims.
Doctors who prescribe medications to patients must ensure they prescribe the appropriate medication for the patient’s condition and account for any potential side effects or complications with other medications the patient may be taking. Pharmacies must ensure they dispense the correct medicines in the proper doses to the right customers.
Determining Liability for Drug Errors
It’s important to note that some drug errors result from defective products. When pharmaceutical manufacturers release defective or dangerous drugs, any resulting damages to patients would typically lead to product liability claims. However, once a drug hits the market, it’s generally acceptable to assume that it’s safe for its intended use. Prescription drug errors constitute medical malpractice claims when doctors or pharmacists make errors in their prescribing practices.
Some of the possible events that could lead to medical malpractice claims for prescription drugs may include:
- Failure to account for patient’s medical status. Some patients are allergic to certain drugs and substances, so doctors must ensure that a patient take a prescribed medication.
- Failure to explain side effects. Patients have the right to make informed decisions about their healthcare. If a doctor fails to mention possible adverse side effects that would have deterred a patient from using the medication had he or she been aware of those side effects, the doctor has effectively violated informed consent law.
- Prescribing or dispensing the wrong medication. Prescribing doctors must ensure they prescribe the correct medication, and pharmacies must dispense medications to patients accurately. Many pharmaceuticals have similar names, so it’s crucial to pay close attention if there’s any room for doubt.
- Prescribing or dispensing the wrong dosage. Some drugs are available in various dosages. Patients can suffer adverse reactions if their prescribed dosage is too small or too large.
- Failure to account for dangerous drug interactions. Doctors must ensure that the medications they prescribe won’t interfere with any other medications a patient may already be taking.
- Mislabeling medications. Pharmacies must ensure accuracy in their inventories. Mislabeling a medication has the potential to negatively impact multiple patients.
Liability in prescription drug error cases falls on the party responsible for the error. If a doctor prescribes the wrong medication, there’s no way for the pharmacist to know that the medication is unsuitable for the patient. Liability would thus fall on the doctor. If a doctor prescribes the correct medication and dosage but the pharmacy makes an error in filling the prescription, liability falls on the pharmacy.
Damages for Drug Error Cases
A prescription drug error can cause severe medical complications for patients, exacerbate existing conditions, create new problems, and lead to more intensive and time-consuming recovery times. Patients injured by prescription drug errors can sue for various types of damages, including the additional medical expenses incurred by the error, lost wages from time missed from work, and pain and suffering caused by the error. Finding the right attorney is a tremendous asset to patients in these situations.
The Bode & Collins team is committed to helping our clients maximize their recovery after experiencing injury or loss due to medical malpractice. We proudly represent clients all over Arizona. If your situation involves a product liability claim against a defective drug manufacturer or a malpractice claim against a prescribing doctor or negligent pharmacist, we can help.
Contact our team to schedule a consultation about your case, and we can let you know what type of compensation you may expect from a lawsuit.