Medication Errors CAN Result in Death

John Fisher
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Stopping Medical Injustice

Medical malpractice happens in many ways.  I am sure that many people just think about surgical errors as being the most likely source of medical malpractice.  This might not be the case.  The negligence of medical professionals happens from misdiagnosis, preventable infections, delayed diagnosis, birthing errors, routine treatment errors, and lab errors, just to name a few. 

Experienced medical malpractice attorneys also know that one of the most common forms of medical malpractice lies within the realm of medication errors.  Unfortunately, these types of errors are also one of the most preventable. 

So how does this happen?  The stereotype is that doctors have horrible handwriting, although many people do, doctor or not.  But a pharmacist not being able to accurately read a prescription is a serious problem.  The patient could get the wrong medication, which could end up being fatal.  The easy solution: print clearly, or use a computer to generate the prescription.  The medical office could also directly call the pharmacy to order the script. 

Another cause of medication errors is when a doctor does not know a patient’s allergies and other medications.    Standard procedures and patient forms should be used that ask for this information.  Additionally, medical professionals should obtain releases allowing them to communicate to a patient’s other doctors so that each medical professional is aware of the medications that have been prescribed to the patient.  The simple resolution: better communication.

Communication improvements may not be enough because some different drugs have similar names, and even similar packaging.  Inexperienced pharmacists and even novice doctors can get confused is not properly supervised. 

Even dosages have been wrongly prescribed.  Here, the patient received the right drug, but the wrong dosage.  Note that a dose too small or one too large can result in additional injury and even death to the patient. 

How does a medication error translate into compensable medical malpractice?  Doctors and other medical professionals own patients a duty of proper and competent treatment.  They should not cause preventable and foreseeable harm.  They should also simply follow the standards set forth by the medical profession.

Making a preventable medication error can be a breach of this duty if another similarly situated doctor in a similar situation would not have done what the offending doctor did.  Once the duty is breached, liability can arise if the breach proximately caused the patient’s injury.

So long as the injury caused by the breach led the victim to suffer damages, a civil court can allow the victim to receive compensation.  Damages are those losses associated with the injury.  They can be additional medical costs that the patient paid out of pocket.  Lost wages are also compensable, as is lost earning capacity. 

But what do you think?  I would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected]  You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com

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