What Can Happen Following A Prescription or Pharmacy Error?
Because the average person knows so little about the complicated chemistry of prescription medication, most of us rely fully on our pharmacist to oversee our prescriptions and our health.
Unfortunately, the professionals we rely on sometimes fail us. Each year, 1.5 million people across the U.S. are injured after receiving the wrong medication or dose, or unknowingly taking prescriptions that should not be mixed together.
Incorrect Dosage Errors
Prescription drugs save countless lives every year. Unfortunately, prescription drug misuse and errors contribute to 1.5 million injuries every year. One of the more common prescription drug errors involves giving patients the wrong dose. Whether the dose a patient receives is too high or too low, the consequences can be severe.
Reasons for Dosage Errors
A dosage error can occur when a pharmacist misunderstands the dosage that a customer should receive, or when a pharmacist mistakenly gives a customer pills of the wrong strength. Commonly cited reasons for these errors include:
- The difficulty of reading handwritten prescriptions
- Overworked or distracted pharmacists
- Different pills that strongly resemble each other
- Typing errors
Pharmacists should not be allowed to hide behind these excuses. They should have to take responsibility for their mistakes.
Consequences of Dosage Errors
Any kind of dosage error can take a toll on a patient's health. The consequences will vary depending on the drug and the patient, but some of the more dangerous problems that can be caused by drug labeling errors include:
- Progression of the initial condition (if under-dosed)
- Blood clots
- Severe psychological reactions
- Accidental death
Unexpected Drug Side Effects
Drug companies are expected to clearly report all potential side effects of the medications they produce. Additionally, doctors and pharmacists are required to educate patients about side effects they may experience, especially if the patient is on more than one medication. If not properly informed, patients may find themselves dealing with unexpected, life-threatening complications.
The side effects experienced will vary depending on the drug taken, the dosage, and personal factors about individual patients that are hard to predict. Any patient who is taking a new drug should keep in close contact with a medical professional and immediately report any unexpected side effects.
Failure to Educate
Drug side effects can hurt patients both physically and psychologically. Certain steps must be taken to minimize these risks, including:
- thorough testing before the drug is released
- full disclosure of test results
- education for doctors and pharmacists about side effects and drug interactions
- clear explanations for patients about potential complications
Unfortunately, all four of these steps at times are overlooked by drug companies, hospitals, and other members of the medical communities. The ones who pay for these oversights are the patients who unknowingly take dangerous drugs.
Prescription drugs have complicated interactions with the chemicals of the human body. Those interactions can be difficult to predict. Of course, the more drugs a person is taking at the same time, the more complex and potentially harmful can be the interaction. This is precisely why doctors and pharmacists are expected to be fully educated about drug interactions and prescription side effects. They are also expected to present their patients with clear information about these issues.
Who Is Responsible for Drug Complications?
The blame for pharmaceutical errors can lie with different parties, depending on the circumstances. To list a few common examples of mistakes medical workers make:
- Pharmacists can fail to inform clients about the dangers of combining certain drugs, or using substances like alcohol while on certain drugs.
- Drug companies can release dangerous drugs without properly educating doctors and patients about the risks involved.
- Doctors and pharmacists can do a poor job keeping track of patients’ medical histories, including drugs they are already taking. This can cause them to prescribe drugs that a certain patient should not use due to drugs they are already taking.
Receiving the correct diagnosis for a condition can involve a good deal of time, but it is only the first step in achieving good health. Next, the problem must be treated adequately according to the best information available. Unfortunately there are many things that can go wrong at this stage, such as receiving the wrong prescription for a particular problem.
Causes of Incorrect Prescriptions
Injuries caused by prescription drug errors can be traced back to many causes, including:
- Emergency room workers giving the wrong drugs, or drugs that patients are allergic to
- Pharmacists making mistakes while filling prescriptions
- Doctors prescribing drugs based on incorrect or incomplete information about patients
- Wrong diagnosis
- Poor administration of drugs in hospitals
While the mistakes listed above could seem understandable in some cases, they are not excusable. All medical workers have a duty to keep their patients safe, and to do everything they can to restore the patient to health. Failing to meet this duty is negligent.
Incorrect Prescription Consequences
If you have been injured by a wrong prescription, you understand the complications. You may be facing staggering medical bills, missed work, chronic pain, and new disabilities. You may have even lost a loved one to a prescription error.
If you or a member of your family is facing these terrible consequences, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. You could potentially win compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related expenses.
Unfortunately, that is only half the story. Once complete information has been distributed to pharmacists, they are in charge of printing labels for prescription bottles that contain important details for patients. These details include:
- The name of the drug, strength of dosage, and a description of its appearance
- Instructions on what dose to take and how often
- Warnings about substances and activities to be avoided while on the drug
Prescription errors can occur at any point when a pharmaceutical company is distributing information about a new drug. Some of the more grievous mistakes that can occur include:
- Side effects that are not named in the literature
- Incorrect information about the drug's safety for different populations
- A lack of information about interaction with other drugs
- An error or typo on the label given to patients
These errors and others like them can cause serious complications, including psychological problems, stroke, seizures, and even death.
What Can I Do?
If you or a loved one has been injured by the mistakes of a negligent pharmacist, you do not have to suffer quietly. Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit can help you recover the money you have lost to past and future medical expenses related to your injury, as well as any wages you lost after taking time off to recover. You may also receive compensation for your pain and suffering. More importantly, you can hold negligent health care workers responsible for their careless errors.
For more information about medical malpractice suits, contact Minnesota pharmacy error attorneys of TSR Injury Law at (612) TSR-TIME or submit our contact form. Our attorneys are experts at proving liability.