Medication Errors: What Qualifies as Medical Malpractice

Americans filled 4.5 billion prescriptions in 2016, and the number of drugs dispensed increases every year. The jump is not surprising considering the growth in population and baby boomers entering their senior years. It is also not surprising that mistakes sometimes occur. But medical malpractice is about more than just a mistake. Here is how to know if you need to file a lawsuit. 

Common Lawsuit Complaints 

Malpractice lawsuits based on medication errors happen in many ways. The patient may have knowingly been allergic to the prescribed drug, the doctor may have prescribed two drugs that interact badly, or the dosage amount may have been dangerously high or so small as to be ineffective. 

Another concern is the dangers of side effects. A case could be filed based on a lack of warning about the potential risks associated with a drug or because the doctor downplayed the risks so the patient would accept the medication. 

Legal Malpractice Requirements

Malpractice lawsuits cannot take place because of simple mistakes. A successful suit proves that the medical professional acted negligently towards the patient. A doctor cannot always predict how successful treatment will be each time. For example, they may prescribe an antibiotic that proves ineffective for an aggressive infection. It is unfortunate, but it is not negligence. 

The patient must also have suffered some measurable level of harm. A court will not award compensation if the mistake resulted in a minor inconvenience that was easily addressed. People must prove that any reaction or illness was related to the prescription error. 

Blame for medication errors cannot be directed at the doctor if the patient was dishonest about their medical history. The lawsuit could fail if patients did not list all allergies, mention a history of addiction, or inform the doctor of medication prescribed to them by other medical professionals. The doctor cannot act on information kept from them by the patient. 

Proper Lawsuit Subject

Injured patients need to correctly name the individual responsible for the drug error because the blame does not always fall on the physician. In some instances, the problems begin with a manufacturing error and the pharmaceutical company is to blame. Pharmacists sometimes read prescriptions incorrectly or prepare the wrong drug or the wrong dosage amount. 

Multiple Responsible Parties

More than one person may be responsible for a medical malpractice problem. A doctor may prescribe two drugs to the same patient at the same time that are known to interact with each other. If the pharmacist receives and fills the prescription without checking the safety of the combination, or fails to warn the patient, the pharmacist is also negligent.

Medical errors cost at least 250,000 lives each year and are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Medical malpractice is one of the most upsetting types of personal injury because people rely on doctors to make them better. Patients that take the time to see their doctor, endure tests and exams, and follow all instructions should get better. 

Malpractice lawsuits do not only help victims to receive compensation. The complaints also put a spotlight on any carelessness within the medical community. The attention could help to prevent suffering or even save a life. Contact Blomberg, Benson & Garrett, Inc., if you believe you were a victim of medical malpractice. We can help you to understand your rights.