How Medication & Pharmaceutical Mistakes Occur


Prescription drug errors can be serious and result in severe injuries or patient death. These types of errors occur when doctors or other medical providers make mistakes when prescribing, administering, filling drugs. Some common types of prescription drug errors include prescribing the wrong drug, prescribing or filling the wrong dose, administering a drug to the wrong patient, filling a prescription and providing it to the wrong patient, prescribing drugs that cause serious allergic reactions or dangerous interactions with a patient’s other medications, and others. Prescription drug mistakes can result in patient death when patients believe that they are simply following their doctor’s instructions.

Medication errors sometimes occur when patients fail to tell their doctors about the medications they are taking or when the patients see several doctors. These errors can easily happen. Doctors and other medical providers must provide treatment that meets the expected standard of care and should ensure that they communicate with each other and with their patients, review their patients’ medical history, and follow best practices whenever they treat patients and prescribe or administer medications. Patients who are harmed because of prescription drug errors should speak with a Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney at Raynes & Lawn.

Types of Prescription Drug Errors

Prescription drug errors can occur in multiple ways, including the following common examples:

  • Administration errors when a patient receives the wrong medication
  • Administration errors when a patient receives the wrong dose
  • Administration errors when the wrong patient receives another patient’s medication
  • Prescription errors when a doctor prescribes a patient a medication to which the patient is allergic
  • Prescription errors when a doctor prescribes a patient a medication that has serious interactions with another medication the patient is taking
  • Pharmacy errors when a pharmacist misreads a prescription
  • Pharmacy errors when a pharmacist mislabels a medication
  • Pharmacy errors when a patient fills the wrong drug for a patient
  • Medication errors when a patient does not receive adequate warnings about the side effects of a drug

Potentially Liable Parties

Several parties can be liable for prescription drug errors, including the following:

  • Doctors
  • Medication aides
  • Nurses
  • In-hospital pharmacies
  • Community pharmacies
  • Pharmacists
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Pharmaceutical companies

Wrong Medication/Wrong Dose Errors

Doctors who prescribe medications, nurses and medication aides who administer medications, and pharmacists who fill prescriptions can all be liable when a patient is injured because he or she was prescribed or given the wrong medication. A doctor might make a mistake about the type of medication he or she should prescribe or its dose. Nurses and medication aides might misread charts and administer too much or too little of a medication. Pharmacists might misread prescriptions and fill an order in the wrong dose or with the wrong medication for a patient.

Transposition errors can result in medication errors. For example, a decimal in the wrong place can result in a patient receiving a dose that is 10 times higher than what he or she should receive. Medication errors can also occur when a drug is improperly administered in the wrong site. For example, some medications should be injected into the bloodstream, and others should be injected into the muscles. Mixing this up can result in injuries.

Some medication errors happen because a doctor’s handwriting is illegible. A pharmacist might misread the prescription and fill the wrong medication to the doctor. In this type of situation, the pharmacist might be liable for failing to check with the doctor to learn what the prescription says. However, the move to electronic records has helped to reduce the instances of these types of errors.

Mislabeled Medications

Medications can be mislabeled by pharmacies or manufacturers. When a medication is mislabeled, a patient might receive the wrong dose or the wrong medication. If a patient is harmed because of a labeling error by the manufacturer or the retailer, the patient might file a product liability lawsuit. If

the medication is mislabeled by the pharmacist, the patient might have a viable medical malpractice claim.

Drug Interactions and Allergic Reactions

Doctors should review their patient’s medical histories and any allergies they have. They should also review the list of medications their patients are taking. When a doctor fails to check for allergies and potential drug interactions, he or she might be liable for malpractice if the patient is injured as a result. Pharmacists can also be liable for failing to check for drug interactions and allergies.

Failure to Warn

When you receive a prescription, you should be warned about the known side effects and risks of the drug. You should also be warned about the types of foods you should avoid when you are taking medication. Doctors and pharmacists should explain the risks to patients and answer any questions that they might have.

Potential Damages

Prescription drug errors can result in a range of injuries, up to and including death. You should carefully check your prescription labels to ensure that they match what your doctor prescribed. If you notice a mistake, promptly contact your pharmacist. If your doctor, pharmacist, or another medical provider injured you or caused your loved one’s death because of a medication error, you can pursue damages through a medical malpractice claim.

Some of the types of damages you might recover include the following:

  • Medical expenses for any additional treatment you needed because of the prescription error
  • Wage losses, including past and future losses
  • Reduction in your ability to earn an income
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress damages
  • Reduction in the quality of your life

If a prescription drug error caused your loved one’s death, you might recover the following types of damages:

  • Medical expenses to treat your loved one before he or she died
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Lost rights to an inheritance
  • Loss of the income your loved one might have earned over his or her life
  • Loss of consortium or guidance

Speak With Our Medical Malpractice Lawyers in PA

Medication errors can seriously injure patients or result in death. If you believe that your injuries or your loved one’s death were caused by a medication error, you should speak with a local medical attorney in Philadelphia at Raynes & Lawn. Call us today at 1-800-535-1797 for a free consultation.


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