From the time we were children, we’ve all heard a similar message: “Take this medicine. It will make you feel better.” Generally, it does. Usually, we can be grateful for the advances in modern medicine that have brought us prescription medication to improve our health and wellbeing. But what happens when there’s a medication error?
When a doctor, surgeon, nurse, or other healthcare professional makes a medication error, the very medicine that was intended to heal us can actually hurt us. How often does this happen? According to a report prepared by the Institute of Medicine and cited by the Washington Post, over 1.5 million Americans are “sickened, injured or killed each year by errors in prescribing, dispensing and taking medications.”
In fact, we at Hannon Legal Group discovered a study performed by the prestigious Johns Hopkins University that concluded that over 7,000 people per year were dying because of these medication mistakes. That translates to over 4,100 people per day getting sick, and sometimes dying, because of medication errors.What Medication Malpractice in Florida Looks Like
Drugs can be helpful. Medications can be necessary. But medications and drugs are substances that change a person’s physiological or mental state. Any substance that can have such a profound effect on a person must be treated with the utmost care. So why does medication malpractice happen? Given the potential harm that these substances could cause, how could doctors, nurses, and hospitals make medication errors? There are several scenarios in which medication malpractice occurs:
- When doctors or nurses prescribe or administer a medication which the patient is allergic to.
- When doctors prescribe the wrong medication.
- When doctors prescribe an improper dosage or an overdose of the right medication.
- When nurses, especially in a hospital setting, administer the wrong medication or the wrong dosage, even if the physician has ordered the correct medication.
- When doctors, nurses or pharmacists give patients a combination of drugs that are contraindicated; that means giving patients two or more medications that shouldn’t be administered together because of the dangerous way they interact with each other.
- When pharmacies mistakenly fill or improperly fill a prescription that turns out to be either the wrong dosage or the wrong medication altogether
- When doctors keep patients on a medication too long and allow the drug to damage the liver or kidneys
- When doctors prescribe or pharmacies dispense defective drugs which have been recalled by the manufacturer or by the FDA because of dangerous side effects
There are a variety of reasons that medicine errors happen, but they all share a common theme. Consider the following causes of medication errors as determined by a 2001 Medmarx data report:
- Distractions - This was a factor in nearly half of medication errors (47%)
- Increases in workload - This was a factor in roughly a quarter of all errors (24%)
- Staffing - Over a third (36%) of medication errors were due in part to staffing issues
Did you notice the theme? Distractions, workload, and staffing—these all suggest that health care organizations are taking shortcuts on staffing, perhaps to save money, which can adversely affect your wellbeing.
But the work environment isn’t the only reason medication error malpractice is occurring. The same Medmarx report noted above suggested that errors also happen because there is an absence of adequate communication—and follow up—between the doctor who orders the medication, the members of the hospital’s pharmacy, and the nurses who finally administer the medication. All these can contribute to errors that lead to injuries and harm, and that could be the basis of a medical malpractice lawsuit. An experienced medication error malpractice law firm like Hannon Legal Group can help you decide whether or not you have a case.What Damages Can a Medical Malpractice Victim Be Compensated For?
When doctors, nurses, surgeons, or the staff at a hospital or surgery center have acted negligently following your surgery and you have suffered harm because of it, damages can be awarded. Generally, they fall into the following categories:
- Loss of consortium - You have a right to expect affection, comfort, companionship and sexual relations with a spouse. However, if medication malpractice has caused a loss in any one of these areas, you may be compensated for the loss. Typically, damages of this type are awarded in situations where permanent or life-changing injuries have been suffered.
- Loss of earning capacity - You need to be able to work, earn money, and make a living. If your ability to do that has been damaged by post-operative negligence, either temporarily or permanently, you can be compensated to make up for this loss of earning capacity.
- Lost wages - Sometimes, a medication error will mean a patient must miss work to recover from the resulting injury. If that’s the case with you, you can be compensated for the lost salary or wages you had to do without.
- Medical expenses - Many times, a medication error will lead to additional medical treatments that would have been unnecessary otherwise. When that’s the case, a medical malpractice victim can be compensated for the cost of assistive devices, hospital stays, doctor visits, OT, PT, prescription drugs, surgical procedures, or other healthcare expenses. If the injury is severe enough or permanent, you may also be awarded compensation for medical expenses that could arise in the future.
- Pain and suffering - Pain and suffering as the result of medication malpractice is very real. If you’re a victim, you can receive compensation for for emotional distress, including fear, frustration, depression, anxiety and other kinds of mental suffering.
- Other kinds of damages - This is not a comprehensive list. Hannon Legal Group can help you determine what sort of damages you can expect, based on the details of your particular medication error malpractice case, as each case is unique.
Timeliness is critical if you have been injured due to the negligence of a medical professional, especially when it comes to medication errors. If you are experiencing this, here’s what you should do:
- Contact your doctor or call 911 to seek medical attention immediately.
- Make an itemized list of all medications that you currently take, including the medication that you believe was given to you in error.
- Save all the prescriptions, medication boxes, bottles, and tubes, as well as any labels that were given to you.
Your first priority is to ensure that no further damage or injury is incurred because of medication malpractice.Find An Experienced Medication Malpractice Attorney To Handle Your Case
The Miami Florida medical malpractice lawyers at Hannon Legal Group have years of experience addressing the causes and claims of medical malpractice, including medication malpractice. Contact us today for a free consultation. Call (305) 358-3109 to speak with a medication malpractice attorney or complete and submit a contact form about medication malpractice.