Medication errors are one of the leading causes of patient harm in the United States. With pharmacists filling up to 25 prescriptions per hour, it is not surprising that patients receive incorrect prescriptions every day. In fact, reports indicate that between 1 and 5 percent of prescriptions filled in US pharmacies involve some form of error.
Types of Prescription Errors
There are a number of ways that a doctor could make a mistake in prescribing your medication. The most frequent errors occur when the wrong medication is prescribed; when the prescription is filled with the wrong medication; or when the pharmacy dispenses the wrong dosage for the correct prescription. But prescription errors are not always this simple and direct.
Prescribing the wrong medication could also involve giving a prescription containing an ingredient that is toxic for the patient; prescribing a medication that could have an undesirable reaction with other drugs the patient is currently taking; failing to include the correct instructions for taking the medication; prescribing a medication for the wrong amount of time; or prescribing a medication that could be harmful to the patient due to underlying health conditions.
Any of the above errors could cause severe patient harm by either proactively injuring the patient, or delaying the ideal treatment route.
How to proceed if you are the victim of a wrong medication error
Prescription errors rarely cause severe patient harm, especially if you are able to catch the mistake in time and request a correct prescription. You should contact your pharmacist or doctor immediately to inquire about potential side effects to watch for and how to address them. Depending on the type of error, you may be advised to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
The biggest problem about getting the wrong medication prescribed is that you may not be aware that you are taking the wrong drugs until serious side effects occur and the doctor or hospital informs you of the problem. If the mistake is severe, you may need to seek emergency treatment and in-patient care. At this point, you could have a valid claim for medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice cases are usually very difficult from both a medical and legal standpoint. You need to identify the liable party, who could be the doctor who wrote the prescription, or the pharmacist who gave the wrong medication, or the drug manufacturing company. Moreover, your attorney has to prove that the actions of the accused party actually amounted to medical negligence for the lawsuit to be viable.
Click here to find out how you and your attorney can validate your medical malpractice lawsuit and prove that your doctor or pharmacist was negligent in prescribing you a specific medication.
How to help your case
You should keep in mind that the effects of wrong prescription medication may not become apparent for a period of time after you have started the dosage. So, it is important that you document how and when you discovered the mistake. Keep notes on how long it took you to discover that you were taking the wrong medication, and how the mistake was made (wrong prescription, incorrect filling). Also note down the people you informed of the mistake, and how they responded.
More information can help build a stronger case if case you need to take legal action. If you feel that you or a loved one has been the victim of a prescription error, you should talk to a qualified personal injury attorney specializing in medical malpractice to learn about your rights.