The whole point of taking medications is to treat or relieve a medical condition, so it is unfortunate that the health care providers we trust can commit serious errors. According to a report published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an estimated 1.5 million people suffer harm from medication mistakes. Plus, adverse drug events (ADEs) lead to more than 3.5 million physician’s visits, 1 million visits to the emergency room, and 125,000 admissions to the hospital. In all, the society costs hover around $3.5 billion, but the losses to individual patients can be devastating.
If you suffered injuries because of a health care provider’s medication error, it is critical to consult with a Miami medical malpractice lawyer about your legal options. When you review how the specific drug mistakes described below can lead to serious complications, you will understand why.
How Medication Errors Happen
In general, health care provider negligence is the reason most mistakes with medication occur. However, there are some specific errors that you should note:
- Improper Combinations: In some situations, a prescription for one drug would be proper alone, but can lead to an ADE in combination with another medication. A physician must carefully review every prescription and the patient’s current medications to avoid mistakes.
- Wrong Medication: A doctor might get confused when writing the prescription, such as mistaking that it treats a medical condition or writing it for a too high or low dose. In addition, pharmacies may also err when filling orders.
- Drug Name Confusion: Many prescription medications have names that are so similar that they can lead to confusion, which primarily affects communication between the physician and the pharmacist. There can also be mistakes in using abbreviations, a common practice in the medical field.
Serious Patient Harm From Medication Mistakes
Any of the errors described above can cause severe consequences, and Florida law holds health care providers accountable when their acts represent a deviation from the legal standard of care. Because of the role medications play in treatment, there is always a duty to weigh the risks and benefits. Plus, many of these errors can be avoided by careful review of the drug and comparison to the patient’s chart, paying special attention to:
- The full medical history;
- Allergies and current medications;
- The patient’s age, weight, and other physical attributes;
- Diagnostic data;
- All results of lab screenings, imaging data, and other tests; and,
- Any other information that has a bearing on writing, prescribing, filling, or administering the drug.
Contact a Miami Medical Malpractice Attorney to Discuss Your Options
The consequences of a medication error can be devastating, so it is a relief to know that you may be able to recover compensation for medical costs, pain and suffering, and other losses. To learn more about your remedies and the legal process, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL. We can set up a no-cost case evaluation to review your circumstances and explain next steps.