When you check into the hospital or pick up a medication from a pharmacy, you trust in the professional diligence and competence of the people prescribing those medications to you. After all, they have years of education, as well as complex computer systems and standards of care to guide their actions. Sometimes, however, these professionals still make mistakes. When that happens, it's often the patients who end up paying the price.
Mistakes in drug administration can take several forms, but all of them pose substantial risks to patients. For those who suffered injuries or medical setbacks related to improper administration of medications, there may be options for legal recourse. In some situations, mistakes with medication can be grounds for a medical malpractice claim, which can help offset lost wages and medical expenses related to the mistake.
Sometimes, people simply receive the wrong medication
One of the most common forms of medication error is giving a patient the wrong drug. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Perhaps there is a mix-up at the pharmacy, with a bottle being mislabeled. It can also happen in the hospital, when nurses or other aides distributing medications mistakenly give one patient the medication intended for another.
Receiving the wrong drug can have a host of potentially life-threatening consequences. The patient could be allergic to the drug and experience a serious reaction to it. Failing to take the drug prescribed as ordered could result in an adverse medical event or potentially reduce the success of the treatment. It's also possible for medication to have an interaction with another medicine the patient takes.
Prescribing the wrong drug is also a serious issue
Medical professionals can — and do — make mistakes. Despite having extensive records about patients' backgrounds, they can miss obvious potential interactions or overlook known allergies when writing new prescriptions. Pharmacists often catch these kinds of mistakes. But that may only work when patients use a single pharmacy to fill all of their prescriptions. Otherwise, the potential for oversight failure may extend to the pharmacist as well.
Taking a drug that interacts with a medication you're already taking or to which you're allergic can result in serious medical consequences. It's critical to patient well-being that doctors who write prescriptions and pharmacists who dispense the medicines carefully review records and medical histories to ensure the safety and appropriateness of a given medication choice.
Patients have the right to hold professionals accountable for mistakes
Oversights and mistakes happen, but they can also cause serious medical issues for the patients involved. You shouldn't just have to accept the financial burden of additional medical care and lost wages because of a professional mistake made by someone else. Learning about your rights, as well as medication administration best practices, can help you advocate for yourself in medical settings.