Medication errors are defined as “any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the healthcare professional, patient, or consumer.” This applies not only to prescription medication but over-the-counter drugs as well.
Examples of “preventable events” are mistakes or negligence in prescribing, dispensing, administering medications. Medication errors may also be related to a misdiagnosis, since a doctor may prescribe the wrong medication based on this incorrectly identified illness or injury. In other cases, the drug manufacturer may be responsible if they improperly labeled or packaged a product.
When prescription drugs are prescribed and administered properly, they can save lives. Over-the-counter medication can also make a difference when patients are suffering from certain injuries or illnesses or symptoms. However, if medications are not used as they are meant to be, the results can be devastating. Serious side effects or even wrongful death can result.
Types of Medication Errors
- Wrong Medication – This error occurs when a patient has been given, prescribed, or recommended the wrong medication. A patient’s medical condition may be misdiagnosed, resulting in the wrong drug being prescribed. The wrong medication may be accidently picked up off the shelf and administered to the patient. A doctor’s handwriting may be misread on a prescription slip by a pharmacist or the prescription may be filled with the incorrect drug.
- Wrong Dose – A patient may be prescribed or given the correct medication, but he or she may receive the wrong dose. This can occur if a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist administers or dispenses the wrong dose or provides the patient with incorrect instructions about the dosage amount to take on his or her own. Incorrect dosage of over-the-counter medication can result from unclear or incorrect instructions on the packaging. Too much or too little of these drugs could be harmful to patients and can lead to serious side effects or a condition that does not improve.
- Allergy/Adverse Reaction – Understanding a patient’s medical history is one of the doctor’s obligations. This includes the patient’s allergies and current medications. Doctors look to the patient’s chart, medical records, and information provided by the patient when they sought out medical help. If a patient has a known allergy or is already taking medication that will react violently to medicine that the doctor prescribes or administers, it may be considered medical malpractice.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a medication error and injury resulted, contact an experienced Kingston, New York medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your case.
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