The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines a medication error as, “any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in control of the health care professional, patient, or consumer.” If you believe your injuries were the result of a medication or pharmaceutical error, you may be eligible to file a medical malpractice claim. Call a New York medication error lawyer from Buttafuoco & Associates for help: 1-800-NOW-HURT.
Types of Medication or Pharmaceutical Errors
The FDA indicates that medication errors can occur at several levels of use:
- Communicating prescription orders
- Filling medication orders
- Packaging and labeling medications
- Manufacturing of medications
- Administering medication
- Monitoring after administering medication
Medication errors occur in three main categories:
The first is mixed-up drug names or wrong drug administration. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices publishes a list of commonly confused drug names to help pharmacists and physicians avoid common mix-ups. A patient can also get the wrong medication if the pharmacist gives them the wrong order or if the physician fails to check that she has the correct medication before use.
The next type of medication error is an error in dosage. There is a significant difference between 10 milligrams of a drug and 100 milligrams, just as there is a significant difference between 10 grams and 10 milligrams. Doctors must be clear of the dose amounts and units, and pharmacists need to verify unusually large or small doses with the prescribing physician before filling the order.
Finally, there are medication errors caused by a dangerous drug or administering a drug to which a patient has a known allergy. The FDA issues warnings and recalls if it finds drugs are more dangerous than beneficial in some situations. They also recall drugs when contamination or mispackaging occurs during manufacturing.
Tracing the Source of a Medication Error
The source of a medication error could go as far back as production if the manufacturer tainted the medication or caused a defect in any way. The next party in the chain of liability is the doctor who writes the prescription. If the doctor prescribes the wrong medication – one the patient is allergic to, or the wrong dose – he can be liable for damage done.
If the order is correct, it is up to the pharmacist to process it correctly. The pharmacist can make errors here by mixing up drug names, administering the wrong dose, or filling an order for the wrong patient.
Errors made by the pharmacist can be even more serious because the medication is likely for home use where it will be unlikely anyone will catch the error before it is too late.
If the patient is in a medical facility, a doctor or nurse is responsible for verifying the patient’s identity, potential allergies, and the correct medication and dose before administering.
As you can see, errors in medication administration can occur at several stages of a medication order. It is important to ask questions regarding any new medications and verify all of your prescriptions before use.
Seeking Damages for Medication Errors
If you believe a medication error caused you or a family member harm, it is important to preserve the evidence.
Call attention to the matter as soon as possible so hospital staff can secure and preserve any used vials or packaging. If your error occurred with a home-use medication, secure all containers and keep them out of the reach of others.
You will need the medication and packaging as evidence in your claim for damages.
Relevant damages will depend on the nature of the harm that occurred due to the medication error. In cases of medication errors during anesthesia, the results can be brain damage or death, and the surviving family might be entitled to lost earning capacity, loss of consortium, and pain and suffering along with the medical expenses.
Patients who survive medication errors might be entitled to:
- Lost wages
- Medical costs
- Long-term compensation for disability
- Pain and suffering
The New York medication error attorneys at Buttafuoco & Associates have the resources to obtain expert medical witnesses to support your claim for damages. If a medication or pharmaceutical error caused you harm, contact us at 1-800-NOW-HURT for a free case review.