Are You a Victim of a Prescription Medication Mistake?
Prescription medication mistakes happen more often than you might think, and the effects can range from the patient not feeling well to experiencing allergic reactions with long-lasting consequences. Depending on the mistake, it can even lead to death. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) 7,000 – 9,000 deaths occur each year due to medication errors. That’s a big deal, right?
This is the reason why practices are in place to keep prescription medication mistakes in check. Technology plays a massive role with added barcoding and better thought-out labels, as well as pharmacists double-checking each other before dispensing the medication to the customer.
Even with all these safeguards, human error is still possible at any point down the line. For example, the error could be due to your doctor prescribing the wrong medication or dosage or the pharmacist grabbing the wrong pills. If you believe that you have been a victim of a prescription medication mistake, you may want to talk to a medical malpractice attorney. You can discuss your options regarding financial compensation for the suffering you’ve experienced.
General Prescription Medication Process
In general, the prescription medication intake goes through many steps, from the time the patient talks with their doctor to when they have taken the medication and seeing the effects. The process usually includes:
- Patient communicating with their physician
- Physician ordering/prescribing
Forms of Prescription Medication Mistakes
There are all kinds of ways medications can be given in error. With all the different steps included in the prescription process, many things can go wrong. Some of these errors occur:
- When your physician prescribes your medication – This is the most common error that takes place. Either they prescribe the wrong medication, the wrong dose, or the incorrect frequency of utilization.
- During the transcription process – Specific details about your prescribed medication can be accidentally left out or overlooked.
- During the dispensing process by the pharmacist:
- the wrong prescription medication
- the incorrect dosage
- the wrong frequency of intake
- to the wrong patient
- When administering medication – Whoever is administering the medication, whether in a hospital, care center, or at home, can give it in error in the same ways as above.
- Interactions – Even if a medical professional prescribes the medications, dispenses, and administers them correctly, sometimes there can be bad interactions. For example, the patient’s other medications or existing physical conditions are vital to consider when prescribing medication.
Factors that Can Influence Prescription Medication Mistakes
Throughout all the different steps in the medication prescription process, various factors can influence the mistakes mentioned above. These factors may include:
Patient Factors – The actual medication mistake may unknowingly be the patient’s fault. The patient may have a language barrier, trouble reading, over (or under) communicated the severity of their health condition, or not clearly described their ailments. Communication is vital when dealing with prescription medication.
There can also be drug allergies that the patient fails to share with their physician. The information that the patient gives the physician is what the doctor must go off in making a diagnosis and treatment plan. If this information is incorrect or does not include all the needed information, the doctor is unable to treat the patient properly.
Physician Factors – There are numerous ways a doctor can make a mistake when prescribing medication to their patient. Not all these mistakes are due to the doctor’s inadequacy, either. Some may be due to the patient or other things. Examples of a physician’s errors can be due to:
- Miscommunication with their patient
- Lack of training when prescribing medications and looking for possible interactions with other drugs or conditions.
- Being tired and overworked
- Not getting a complete background and history of their patient
- No or little attention to detail
- Failure to diagnose the patient properly
- Interruptions (from other staff members, patients, etc.)
Most Common Causes of Prescription Medication Mistakes
After closely examining all the steps a prescription medication takes before ingestion or application, does it leave you wondering what the most common causes of these mistakes are? Where are the most typical slip-ups occurring? Here’s the rundown:
Miscommunication – This can include the physician’s illegible writing, use of unknown abbreviations, and the mistake of faulty translating or misinterpreting without double-checking the meaning. There is always so much to do and so little time to do it. The problem is these small mistakes can lead to a patient being affected for life or even losing their life.
Distractions – Out of every other cause or reason for slip-ups, distraction accounts for the most considerable amount. Multitasking by physicians or other staff members can lead to carelessness and errors in their prescription process. Writing prescriptions sometimes falls down the priority list below the patient or phone call right in front of them. This is when distractions can lead to some severe problems.
Wrong information – Errors can occur because the prescribing physician is not privy to all the relevant information they need from their patient. Also, the doctor communicating the wrong information about the medication, dosage, or frequency of intake can confuse the patient and cause them to take it incorrectly. There are many ways a doctor’s office can share wrong or incomplete information through the patient care and prescription medication process.
Who is Liable for Your Prescription Medication Mistake?
If you have found yourself as the victim of a prescription medication error, you have a right to make a claim for your sufferings and damage that has occurred. There may be one or many people and/or companies at fault in your case. Your lawsuit may include the:
- Physician that prescribed your medication
- Pharmacist who dispersed your medication
- Pharmaceutical company
- Hospital, clinic, facility and/or the health care staff member that administered your medication