Medication Errors by Health Care Professionals, a Form of Malpractice

Even by the most conservative estimates, mistakes made in issuing medication to patients cause at least one death per day in the United States, the Food & Drug Administration says.

However, that’s a small portion of the estimated 1.3 million Americans annually who are harmed or made ill because of improper medications or incorrect dosages administered by doctors or pharmacists.

In 2000, the highly regarded Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that 106,000 Americans die annually because of the side effects of prescribed drugs.

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The FDA classifies medication error 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 health-care professional, patient or consumer.” No question, for any patient who suffered as a result of a medication mistake, the key word is “preventable.”

By whatever definition, thousands of mistakes are made on a daily basis by trusted health professionals, which is why litigation experts at Weitz & Luxenberg have been recovering compensation for their clients for decades through medical malpractice lawsuits.

Overall, medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the United States, and prescription errors account for a notable percentage of the fatalities.

Prescribed Drugs Can Make Your Condition Worse

If a patient’s condition hasn’t improved after starting medication treatment, or if it has worsened or led to other complications, it’s possible that the wrong drug has been prescribed.

Medication errors can happen in a variety of circumstances:

  • A physician might confuse two drugs with similar names.
  • Drugs may be prescribed in incorrect dosages.
  • Miscommunication of drug orders caused by:
    • Sloppy handwriting
    • Poor packaging
    • Confusion over metric or other dosing measures
    • Pharmacists’ mistakes

If that’s the case, the patient may be entitled to financial damages and should consult a specialized law firm with experience in the medical malpractice arena. Weitz & Luxenberg is an acknowledged national leader in the prosecution of cases involving medication mistakes that injured or killed unwitting patients.

Medication Errors So Common There Are Guidelines

The National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention website includes a list of dangerous prescription abbreviations and potential handwriting errors that features a dozen examples. The NCCMERP in 2013 called for the elimination of prescription time guarantees at pharmacies because haste often leads to mistakes. The council also said that profit-driven pharmacies’ focus on speed and prescription volume can have “detrimental effects” on patient education and patient safety.

The FDA’s Division of Medication Error Prevention and Analysis even reviews the names of meds to help reduce the possibility of confusion. In some cases, a drug company’s “proprietary name” might be altered to lessen the chances of error.

That said, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices website features a list of commonly confused drug names that contains an astounding nine pages of citations, with dozens of drugs per page.

Considering those numbers, it’s not surprising that the FDA reviews about 1,400 claims of medication errors per month, then analyzes them to determine the cause and types of errors involved.

Let Weitz & Luxenberg Medication Error Attorneys Help

Bureaucratic classifications and hollow explanations don’t much matter to a patient who was left ill, injured or dead because of a preventable medication mistake.

With more than $17 billion in total verdicts and settlements in client-injury cases over three decades, Weitz & Luxenberg specializes in medically-related lawsuits and our staff would love to help you by discussing the details of any medication-related case in a free consultation.

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