When we’re given a prescription, we have little choice but to trust that the prescribing doctor knows what’s best for us. Unfortunately, doctors are humans and humans make mistakes. Maybe your doctor is having a bad day, or maybe she’s feeling ill. She inadvertently overlooks that you are currently taking a drug that is contraindicated for use with the drug she is prescribing. If this mistake causes you injury, can your doctor be liable for those injuries? Is this an example of medical negligence, or just an honest mistake?
Common Medication Errors
Medication errors can result in serious injury, and even death. A patient may suffer an overdose, an allergic reaction, or a delay in care due to a medication error. And these errors are shockingly common. In fact, medication errors injure about 1.3 million people and are responsible for nearly 700,000 emergency room visits annually in the United States. Maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised, considering that about one-third of American adults take at least five medications. Common medication errors include:
- Incorrect dosage
- Wrong medication
- Interference with other medications due to failure to check already prescribed meds
- Allergic reactions due to failure to check patient’s allergies
- Adverse reactions due to failure to check past prescription use
- Failure to warn about side effects and risks
- Failure to provide dosing instructions
All of the above scenarios can be a result of medical negligence, but proving negligence is rarely an easy task. To prove negligence, you must first show that a “duty of care” existed and that a medical professional breached that duty. In order for a duty of care to exist, there must be a contractual relationship between patient and doctor at the time of the injury. Further, the medical professional must have done something that falls outside of what a qualified medical professional would have done under the same or similar circumstances. An experienced MA medical negligence attorney can help you prove that your injury is the direct result of a breach of duty on the part of a medical professional.
How to Prevent Medication Errors
If you are given a prescription, don’t just assume that your doctor knows best. Ask the following questions:
- What is the name of the drug?
- What is the correct dosage?
- What is the purpose of the drug?
- How long should I use the drug?
- What is the proper method of storage for the drug?
- Will it interact with any of the medications or vitamins I am currently on? (List these for your doctor, including over-the-counter meds, herbs, and dietary supplements)
- How will this drug affect my other medical conditions? (If you have other health problems, list them for your doctor)
In addition to the above questions, tell your doctor if you have ever had an allergic or adverse reaction to any drug, herb, or supplement. A Boston injury attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence. Continue reading