Prescription medications are potentially dangerous, which is why they’re regulated instead of being classified as over-the-counter drugs. Some of the reasons that physicians must recommend them and oversee their administration involve helping to avoid dangerous interactions, overdoses and/or the development of chemical dependence.
People who require potentially dangerous medications, such as narcotic pain relievers, often believe that having medical professionals administer certain drugs is a safer option than home administration performed by the patient. Unfortunately, quite a few medication errors occur at medical facilities because of errors and other forms of professional negligence. In short? Mistakes involving medication can happen anywhere and by anyone.
Medication errors occur with surprising frequency
There are many ways for a medication error to occur. A physician might make a mistake when prescribing a drug by failing to properly review someone’s medical records to check for warning signs that they may have an allergy to a particular medication or whether they might experience a dangerous drug interaction.
Pharmacists might provide someone with the wrong dose of a medication or the wrong drug altogether. Nurses administering drugs in hospitals might mix up medications between patients or make mistakes when inputting the administration details into the machine providing intravenous (IV) drug administration.
Any of these mistakes could have a dire impact on the patient. Drug interactions could lead to serious medical side effects. Not getting the right medication might reduce how effective a treatment is, and receiving the wrong medication might put them at risk of a host of side effects and other consequences. Receiving the right drug in the wrong dose or an IV drug with the wrong timing could lead to an overdose, which could cause damage to their bodies or even death.
Medication errors occur far more frequently than people realize, with between 7,000 and 9,000 people dying annually due to medication errors just in the United States. These mistakes are likely under-reported, making them quite difficult to effectively track. Patients who received the wrong dose or the wrong drug might have massive medical expenses and negative health consequences because of that mistake. Families may also have to adjust to life after losing a loved one.
Someone with sizable costs inspired by a drug administration error or prescribing error might potentially have the option of pursuing a medical malpractice claim against the individual professional who made the mistake and/or the facility where they received their care. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to assess whether an individual patient has grounds upon which they can file a potentially viable claim.