Are Medication Errors Considered Malpractice?

BIKLaw Medical Malpractice Lawyer > Medical Malpractice > Are Medication Errors Considered Malpractice?

Medication errors are more common than you may want to believe. In fact, a recent study by the FDA concluded that approximately 1.3 million people are injured by medication errors annually in the U.S. and that 7,000 to 9,000 people die from such errors each year, in the United States alone.

There are many ways a medication error can occur. It could be caused by your physician prescribing the wrong drug, the pharmacist giving the wrong medication, or a nurse making a mistake and administering the wrong prescription. Medication errors can cause serious injuries – or even result in death. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a medication error that caused harm, you may be wondering if it is medical malpractice and if you can pursue a claim against the party who made a mistake.

Determining Liability

A physician is only liable for a medication error if he or she is the one who made the mistake. If the pharmacist or the drug manufacturer made the error, then they are liable for the damages they caused. It can be a complicated process to prove who is at fault for the medication error. For any medical malpractice lawsuit to succeed, you must prove that the pharmaceutical or drug provided was provided in error and that the prescription caused injuries, constituting medical negligence.

Proving Medical Negligence

In order to prove negligence, you will need to prove that the physician or other health care provider (nurse, pharmacy, etc.) engaged in conduct that was unreasonable.  “Unreasonable” conduct includes all of the following: prescribing a medication that was not indicated to treat the condition, giving a patient the wrong medication, or giving a patient the wrong dosage of a medication  Accordingly, you will need to show the following to succeed in a claim against a health care provider: 

  •       That the medical “standard of care” under the circumstances was not met;
  •       That there was a specific departure from, or deviation from that standard; AND,
  •       That you were harmed because of that action

The first thing that you must establish is the medical standard of care.  To that end, an expert witness experienced in the same medical field as your treating physician will be used to confirm what the applicable standard of care is under the circumstance, whether it be for a nurse, a pharmacist or a doctor. The standard of care is used to determine the validity of your health care provider’s (nurse, physician, pharmacy) decision to prescribe and dispense the medication you were given and the provider’s conduct as it applied to that situation.

You will then need to show how your physician or nurse or pharmacist didn’t meet the standard of care when providing medical care to you.  More specifically, you must show that what your doctor did or did not do did not comply with the proper code of conduct under the circumstances. Lastly, you must be able to prove that the medication directly caused you harm. This harm could be a worsening of an existing condition, the development of a new condition, or the creation of emotional or physical harm in some other way. To have a successful claim, you must have a significant injury that justifies the time and expense of pursuing a lawsuit against your physician, your nurse, or your pharmacy.

Pursuing A Medical Negligence Claim Because Of A Prescription Error

If you have been the victim of a prescription error and suffered an injury, you should enlist the help of a medical negligence lawyer who regularly litigates claims of pharmaceutical malpractice. Contact the Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq., for a free initial consultation to determine how to proceed with your claim.

Questions? Contact us