We often think of medical malpractice as involving severe errors, such as wrong-site surgery, but in fact many cases of medical malpractice involve more subtle mistakes. Among the most common are medication errors – prescribing or administering the wrong medications, or the wrong dosages. While not as sudden or shocking as a mistake on the operating table, these errors can lead to severe injury for patients, and the aftermath can have profound effects on the injured person’s entire family.
The serious nature of medication errors
Medication errors can lead to different serious possible consequences including:
- Life threatening situations and even death
- Birth defects
Medication errors are defined as preventable events that can lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm when the medication is in control of a healthcare professional, patient or consumer. Medication errors can occur at many stages in the medical care process: when a drug is prescribed; when a drug is entered into a computer system; when the drug is prepared or dispensed or when the drug is given to the patient or taken by the patient.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration receives greater than 100,000 reports in the United States each year that involve a suspected medication error. Medication errors can occur when hospital staff or other medical care professionals are negligent when prescribing a patient’s medication or when entering into a computer system or administering it to the patient. This can occur when hospital staff are poorly trained or overworked.
A patient who has been injured due to a medication error can have huge medical expenses and other damages. Compensation for these damages through a medical malpractice claim can help the injured and their families to cope with the long aftermath of their injuries.