According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), close to 6,800 prescription medications and countless over-the-counter drugs are available in the United States. To further complicate a practitioner’s responsibility during patient care, there are thousands of health supplements, herbs, potions, and lotions used by the public regularly to treat their health problems. With the number of substances on the market, it is conceivable that mistakes can be made when practitioners prescribe or dispense drugs. Added to this is the high risk of interaction between substances.
Each year, in the United States alone, 7,000 to 9,000 people die due to a medication error. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of other patients experience but often do not report an adverse reaction or other complications related to a medication.
There are numerous types of prescription drug errors. Some of the more common include:
In a nutshell, anyone along the chain of prescribing and administering a medication can be liable for prescription drug errors. This includes doctors, hospitals, the pharmacy departments in hospitals, pharmacists, and the pharmaceutical manufacturer.
Physicians can be liable for prescribing and/or administering the wrong medication. They can simply make a mistake about what medication should be prescribed or what dosage to prescribe.
In addition, different medications have to be administered in different ways. For example, if the medication is to be administered hypodermically (under the skin), the shot may have been given in the wrong place. For example, some drugs must be injected in muscles, while others have to be injected directly into the bloodstream.
Sometimes, medications are mislabeled. This can happen either before the medication leaves the manufacturer or at the pharmacy. Either way, if a medication is mislabeled, the patient could receive the wrong medication or the wrong dosage.
It is the pharmacist’s and doctor’s job to keep track of a patient’s allergies and all medications the patient is taking to avoid harmful interactions between more than one medication, or a medication that may not be suitable because of allergies or other meds the patient is taking.
Patients need to be informed about common side effects of medications, as well as what types of foods the patient should avoid when taking a certain medication. For example, numerous medications, including medications for high cholesterol and high blood pressure, do not work properly when patients consume grapefruit. That’s just one example. Always ask your doctor about your medication’s side effects, including foods and drinks to avoid while taking the medication.
The impact of a prescription drug error can range from minimal to fatal, depending on the nature of the error. If you suspect that you received the wrong medication, you should contact your pharmacist and your physician immediately.
Even if you or a loved one did not suffer any major health complications, it is still important to seek legal assistance right away. If, on the other hand, severe health problems were suffered as a result of a medication error, it is crucial to consult with a medical malpractice attorney.
Our team of attorneys leverage our extensive knowledge of Pennsylvania law to provide well-reasoned, straightforward answers to your questions and determine if you have a legitimate claim. For a free consultation at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C., call us today: 570-346-2600.