If you visit the doctor for an illness or injury, you’re likely to be unimpressed by the harried medical professionals and crowded office environment. Good luck if you don’t have an appointment! Unfortunately, this familiar scenario is the perfect environment for medication errors to prosper.
Overworked and stressed medical staffers are often unable to devote the necessary time and attention each patient deserves. Prescribing medications is a particularly delicate business, and it’s easy for exhausted and overwhelmed medical professionals to make mistakes.
Nevertheless, this is the one field where mistakes are detrimental to the patients and can easily cost lives. If you’re the victim of a medication error, it’s important that you seek legal guidance from a medical malpractice lawyer.
Common medication errors:
- Doctors prescribing the wrong medication
- Pharmacists reading the prescription wrong
- Pharmacists making a mistake in the formula process
- Doctors recommending the wrong dosage
Causes of Medication Errors
Your treatment process starts when your doctor chooses a medication to prescribe. Like any administrative process, medication errors start with the slightest mistake and then snowball to disaster. From the moment your prescription is written, there are many opportunities for a medical error to impact your health.
Medication errors are typically caused by:
- Incomplete patient information
- Improper labeling and classification
Impact of Medication Errors
The impact of medication errors reaches further than most people initially think. No matter the cause of the error—whether from plain old human error or systematic issues such as computer calculation errors—these mistakes can cause severe injury and death to patients. All are preventable.
It is no surprise that the medication error will impact the patient, but it can also have emotional, psychological, and even financial consequences for healthcare providers and the victim’s family.
Let’s look at some negative consequences of medication errors on patients, their loved ones, healthcare providers, and hospitals.
The consequences of a medication error can range from minor to severe and can be temporary or permanent. Patients may experience minor injuries such as a rash, itching, headaches, or more severe permanent injuries such as disfigurement, neurological defects, paralysis, and even death. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may face lifelong impacts from the error, including the inability to earn a living, medical costs, inability to perform daily tasks, and loss of enjoyment of your life.
Medication errors can result in severe patient injury or even death. The loss of a loved one is particularly devastating when it is unexpected and caused by medical professionals entrusted with their care. If a loved one dies due to a medication error, their family might pursue a wrongful death claim. However, even if that individual survived but with severe injuries, the impact will ripple throughout their family. For instance, the injured individual may no longer be able to complete household tasks (e.g., cooking, landscaping, etc.) or care for their children.
No matter the extent of the injury caused by the medication error, it can impact a victim’s family substantially.
Doctors and Healthcare Providers
Doctors or nurses who cause a medication error by administering the wrong medication, the wrong dose, or otherwise driving a mistake with the drug could be liable for the hurt and injuries they cause. The patient or the patient’s family members may pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the administering professional for negligence. The doctor or nurse may also feel extreme guilt, shame, and remorse for what they did, which could cause them to lose their job and their medical license. Medication errors have rippling consequences beyond just the patient’s victim. These errors can also cause an increase in malpractice insurance premiums.
In addition to the doctor or nurse responsible for the error, the patient or their family may file a medical malpractice or wrongful death claim against the healthcare facility, including the hospital, nursing home, rehabilitation facility, etc. Defending against these claims can be an exurbanite cost to the facility, including legal fees, settlement costs, and lost revenue from negative stigma due to a public lawsuit. The healthcare facility faces a damaging blow to its reputation and re-accreditation.
What Types of Damages Can You Recover in a Medication Error Case?
Damages from medication errors can be substantial. If the plaintiff in a medication error case can prove what the minimum standard of adequate care is in a similar situation and the care the patient received here fell short of that standard, they may be able to recover significant compensation. As in any medical malpractice case, victims of a medication error may be eligible to recover the following types of damages:
- The cost of medical treatment, including anticipated future medical expenses;
- Nursing and at-home care;
- Costs associated with diagnosing the injuries;
- Lost income, including expected future earnings;
- The cost of caring for family and expenses for household services that you can no longer provide;
- Loss of enjoyment of life;
- Permanent disability;
- Mental and emotional anguish; and
- Pain and suffering.
While you can recover damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other non-economic damages, there is a compensation limit or cap to these damages.
Wrongful Death Damages
Wrongful death damages are compensation paid to the surviving family of a deceased victim who died because of the negligence of another person or entity. Generally, if the deceased individual would have had a legal right to pursue damages had they survived, their family may file a wrongful death claim.
Under particularly egregious circumstances, the patient or patient’s family may pursue punitive damages as a punishment for a defendant’s actions. No matter the situation, never accept a settlement offer without first speaking with legal counsel. Our experienced lawyers will assess your case and help you better understand what you may receive in damages from medication errors.
Seek Legal Guidance
You depend on your doctor to protect your health and deliver quality care. It’s easy to feel helpless and hopeless when you receive substandard care because your doctor is distracted or exhausted.
Contact Gerash Steiner & Blanton, P.C. if you are the victim of medical malpractice. Our attorney is an experienced physician with over 20 years of medical experience. We can evaluate your malpractice case and discuss your legal options.
Contact Gerash Steiner & Blanton, P.C. to schedule your free consultation or call us now!