Over half of all medication errors result in serious illness or death. About 1.3 million Americans suffer injuries due to medication errors each year. Medication errors are also referred to as “adverse drug events” (ADEs).
Common medication errors include:
- Administration of the wrong medication
- Administration to the wrong patient
- Incorrect dose
- Medication inappropriate for condition
- Medication inappropriate for patient based on medical history
- Multiple prescriptions given in inappropriate combinations
- Emergency rooms administering pain medication to intoxicated patients
- Administration of experimental drugs without patient consent
The risk of ADEs affects nearly everyone. 80% of Americans take prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, or supplements on a daily basis, and 30% take at least five different medications. It is easy to assume that people are more likely to make mistakes taking medications at home, expecting hospitals and their staff to exhibit a professional standard of care. The reality is that hospitalized patients can expect to experience at least one medication error every day. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), at least 400,000 preventable drug-related injuries occur in hospitals each year. About twice as many occur in long-term care settings. Overall, medication errors cause 7,000 deaths annually.
Common adverse reactions to medication errors include:
- Condition is not improved
- Condition is worsened
- Delayed recovery and/or extended hospital stay
- Allergic reactions
- Digestive problems
- Brain injury
- Unexpected temporary mental or physical impairment
- Kidney damage
- Liver damage
- Heart attack
- Permanent disability
Common causes of medication errors include:
- Poor labeling and packaging of medications
- Poor handwriting
- Failure to fully review patient’s medical records for drug allergies
- Failure to fully review patient’s medical records for other prescriptions
- Failure to adjust doses according to health changes in patient
- Inadequate warnings provided by drug manufacturers
Because medication errors can occur in so many ways, it may be difficult to determine who is responsible. For instance, a doctor may have made an error in prescribing, or the prescription may have been correct, but administered improperly, or a drug may lack the proper warnings to alert health care professionals and patients to unique dangers. These are just a few reasons that it can be difficult to determine who is at fault.
Responsible parties can include:
- Hospital staff
- Emergency room staff
- Nursing home staff
- Drug manufacturers
Medication errors do not always have an outcome resulting in harm, but they can very easily result in serious injury or death. If you or a loved on has been injured or killed as a result of medication error you may be entitled to compensation for your loss including:
- Current and future medical bills
- Special education needs
- Long-term care
- Current and future loss of income
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of companionship
- Burial expenses
If you or someone you love has been the victim of medication error, please contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation. We’ll review your medication error claim and help you determine how to best proceed.
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