Can You Sue for Over-Medicated and Wrong Prescriptions?
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), billions are paid out each year in medical malpractice payouts. Medical negligence is now the third leading cause of death in the U.S., right behind heart disease and cancer. A healthy portion of related litigation is due to over-medication and wrong prescriptions.
Advances in medical care have come at a dizzying rate. Many once-incurable diseases are practically nonexistent. Catastrophic injuries, while still serious, no longer have to be significantly disabling. Prescription medication has also evolved and there seems to be a drug for just about any symptom, disease or condition imaginable. In the U.S., alone, the pharmaceutical industry takes in more than 300 billion dollars a year.
Unfortunately, there is a flip side to all of this progress, namely instances of medications being over-prescribed and prescriptions handled incorrectly. It would be impossible not to be aware of the epidemic raging across the country as a result of over-prescribed medications, especially opiates. There are countless examples of people becoming addicted to the medication that was supposed to be helping them. Physicians can be held liable in some instances, but this is not always easy to prove. All pertinent information would be taken into consideration, including medical history, diagnosis, patient symptoms and complaints, medical findings, physician’s experience with the particular condition and accepted practice according to medical textbooks and literature.
Besides over-medication, there are mistakes made with prescriptions. These can often be serious, even tragic. Some of the possible results of a patient being given the wrong prescription are mild to life-threatening allergic reactions, disorientation, chronic pain, internal bleeding, organ damage, coma and even death.
Prescriptions mistakes can take various forms, including:
- Prescribing the wrong medication
- Prescribing an incorrect dosage amount
- Providing incorrect instructions
- Pharmacy misreading a prescription, often caused by the doctor’s illegible handwriting
- Prescription-filling mistakes by the pharmacy, like incorrect dosage, failure to warn of potential side effects, failure to provide proper instructions or providing the wrong medication entirely
- Allergic reactions
- Negative interactions with other drugs, assumes doctor is fully aware of all other medications the patient takes
- An error in dispensing the medication, usually made by hospital staff or employees of a nursing home or other care facility
Depending upon the circumstances, prescription mistakes are considered a form of medical malpractice that has occurred as the result of negligence on the part of a healthcare professional. This includes doctors, pharmacists, drug manufacturers and hospital or medical facility staff.
Medical malpractice is very complex and varies from state to state, but the basic concept is relatively simple. To establish that medical malpractice occurred, there must be evidence of the following:
- Proper procedures for the specific patient were not followed by the healthcare professionals or facility.
- Negligence resulted in the patient suffering injury, illness or other harm.
- The resulting harm had serious consequences.
Medical malpractice laws with regard to drugs and prescriptions are very complex and vary considerably from state to state. Anyone faced with complications resulting from over-medication or a wrong prescription should seek experienced legal advice.
Over-medication or wrong prescriptions can lead to further complications. The laws regarding these topics are very difficult to understand. Bring your case to Eisner Psych Law and we’ll tell you how to proceed. Contact us today.