According to the CDC, nearly half of all Americans used at least one prescription drug in the past thirty days, 22 percent used three or more prescription drugs in the past 30 days, and nearly 11 percent used five or more prescription drugs in the past 30 days. In 2012, a whopping 67.2 percent of doctor visits involve the prescribing of a drug. Large pharmacies such as Walmart, Walgreens and CVS fill billions of prescriptions every year; a medication error can have serious or even tragic consequences, yet some 1.3 million Americans suffer an injury each year due to a medication error. The most common medication errors include the following:
- Physician prescribes wrong medication or wrong dosage for patient;
- Physician fails to ask patient about drug allergies or other drugs the patient is taking, or overlooks that information when prescribing;
- Failure to identify a patient’s drug allergy on the part of the pharmacy;
- Failure to identify a potential drug interaction on the part of the pharmacy;
- Failure to double-check with the physician regarding an unclear prescription;
- Right name on the prescription, wrong medication inside;
- Giving one patient another’s prescription;
- Confusing drugs which look or sound alike on the part of the pharmacy;
- Wrong dosage for patient on medication instructions;
- Incorrect medication instructions, and
- Failure on the part of the patient to properly read instructions and administer correct dosage at correct time.
Why Prescription Drug Errors Occur
There are many reasons prescription drug errors occur, including overworked pharmacy staff, inadequate training for pharmacists, negligence on the part of pharmacists to properly supervise pharmacy technicians, dependence on automated system to prevent prescription drug errors, lack of staff in pharmacies and hospitals, lack of communication between pharmacy and physicians and physicians who fail to take a thorough patient history or read the patient’s chart.
Why Even Minor Prescription Drug Errors Should Be Reported
Even a minor error in your prescription drug could cause 24-48 hours of vomiting, nausea, headaches, sleeplessness and diarrhea, and a more serious error could lead to much more serious consequences. While you might not think it a minor drug error is worth reporting, remember that by reporting such an incident your pharmacy may become more aware of mistakes. Further, in some instances a claim for a more minor, temporary injury can have a surprisingly high economic value.
Dealing with a Pharmacy, Hospital or Physician
If you are the victim of a prescription drug error, the last thing you want is to have to deal with the legal aspects of your injury, while recovering from the injury itself. When you are on your own, you may find yourself dealing with a pharmacy who denies your claim out of hand, or a hospital or physician who won’t even talk to you. When you have an experienced attorney by your side, however, the person or entity responsible for your injuries is forced to pay attention.
Compensation You May Be Entitled to Receive Following Your Prescription Drug Injury
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your prescription drug injury as well as the extent of that injury, you may be entitled to recover one or more of the following:
- Medical expenses, present and future. You could be entitled to reimbursement for hospital and physician bills, as well as any treatments or rehabilitation required for your injuries.
- Lost wages, present and future. If your injury prevented you from returning to work temporarily, or if you will not be able to return to work for a significant length of time (or ever), you may be entitled to lost wages.
- You may be entitled to pain and suffering resulting from your injury, as well as any disability or impairment.
Product Liability for Prescription Drugs
In some cases, the prescription drug which injured you could have been defectively manufactured or designed, or the manufacturer may have failed to provide adequate warnings of the known risks and side effects associated with the drug. If this is true in your case, you may be able to file a product liability case either instead of or in addition to your medical malpractice case.
A product liability case is generally brought against the pharmaceutical company which manufactured the drug, and may require expert testimony in order to fully establish the company’s liability. Product liability cases for defective drugs can be quite complex. Your case may be consolidated into an MDL, which allows plaintiffs with similar injuries to share discovery, and usually to bring the case to trial more quickly.
What to Do if You Were Injured by a Prescription Drug Error
If you have suffered an injury after taking a mis-filled prescription drug, it is a good idea to fully document the situation. Write down everything you can think of regarding what your doctor and the pharmacist said and did on the subject of your prescription. If you believe a health care professional failed to fulfill his or her legal duties in connection with your prescription drug, it could be time to call a Martinson & Beason medical malpractice attorney.
Without an experienced Alabama medical malpractice attorney by your side, you may find it difficult to recover the compensation you are entitled to following your injury from a wrongly-filled prescription drug. Our Huntsville attorneys can understand your medical records as well as the injuries which result from medical malpractice. Don’t wait—call Martinson & Beason today.