According to the Institute of Medicine, prescription drug errors injure 1.5 million Americans each year and kill as many as 98,000 people. More people die annually from medication errors than die in car or truck accidents or from breast cancer. A 2002 Auburn University study found that nearly 1 in 5 prescriptions contained some type of error. Many of these errors are dispensing errors made by the pharmacist. Dispensing errors include the dispensing of an incorrect medication or the dispensing of the correct medication, but in an incorrect dosage. Sometimes the pharmacist may mislabel the prescription with incorrect information. Sometimes the prescription is filled and labeled properly, but the prescription then is given to the wrong customer. Contact a Maine personal injury lawyer if you think you have been injured by a prescription error.
How Do Prescription Drug Errors Occur?
Prescription errors happen in many different ways and at different stages during the process. Some examples of how problems occur include:
- Misdiagnosis: When a physician or other health care provider misdiagnoses your medical problem and prescribes the wrong medication for treatment.
- Illegible handwriting: Some doctors have poor handwriting and leave the pharmacists guessing about the name of the medication prescribed and the dosage.
- Failure to review medical history: When you have an allergy to a specific substance and a health care provider fails to review your medical history, you could receive a drug that causes an allergic reaction. Another common error is prescribing a new drug that does not mix well with other medication you are taking.
- Confusion on medication: Some medication errors are the result of confusing the name of one drug with the name of another drug. Two medications with slightly different names may have very different effects.
Not Only Private Physicians
Prescription drug errors are not limited to private health care providers and pharmacists. In some cases, a nurse administering medication in a hospital can mix up doses or give the wrong drug to a patient. These types of errors can happen many different ways including mislabeling in the hospital pharmacy or administering an improper dosage.
When to Consider a Personal Injury Lawyer
We depend on our health care providers to take care of our health. Patients have a right to expect they will be prescribed the right medications. When you fill a prescription at a pharmacy, you have a right to expect that you will receive the right medication and the correct dosage. You may be entitled to compensation if you have suffered health consequences from someone else’s mistake in prescribing or filling a prescription.
In some instances, a prescription error can result in death. You may have lost a loved one because of a misdiagnosed illness, an incorrect prescription or a misfilled prescription. We would not expect a prescription drug error to result in the death of a loved one.
If you are a victim of a prescription mistake, consider contacting Fales & Fales, P.A. for a free review of your case. We will review your situation and help you determine the best way to proceed. If we feel that you have a case for prescription drug errors, we will represent you on a contingency fee where we are paid only if we recover compensation for your injury.
Here is a link to an important Institute of Medicine study “To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System”.