Every individual reacts to medication differently, as many a medical malpractice lawyer in Illinois knows. Discovering the appropriate drug and dosage for any given health issue is a process that requires careful attention by the physician and the patient, as well as the pharmacist who fills the prescription. Any error during this medication process can cause serious side effects and even fatalities.
According to the National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention, a medication error is an avoidable event that has the potential for inappropriate medication use or patient harm. This can occur during the prescribing, ordering, or filling of a drug. If a medical mistake causes an overdose or reaction, a provider or pharmacist may be guilty of malpractice.
The FDA is responsible for evaluating reports of medication errors. Between 2000 and 2012, the agency received more than 95,000 medication error reports through MedWatch, the adverse event reporting program. The agency has done many studies based on these fatal medication error reports. In one such study, 41 percent of the reports were fatalities due to improper dosage administration. Nearly 50 percent of the victims were 60 or older. Researchers speculate the number is higher because of the risk involved in taking multiple prescription medications.
Fatal errors are also frequently caused when patients are given the wrong drug. There are a number of different reasons this may happen. For example, when two prescription medications start with a similar sequence of letters, it is easy for pharmacists to grab the wrong one off the shelf during busy work hours. Some drug abbreviations are similar and easy to misread, and sloppy physician handwriting can exacerbate this issue. The FDA conducts reviews of proprietary and generic drug names, labels and packaging to eliminate as much confusion as possible and prevent the administration of the wrong medication.
According to the FDA’s public health advisory program, patients can help reduce the risk by asking their providers questions about medications. A medical malpractice lawyer in Illinois cautions that they should note the names and dosages before going to the pharmacy to pick up the prescriptions. The pharmacist should be consulted about the drug administered, the dosage and the potential side effects or reactions that it may have to other drugs currently taken.
Victims of medication errors can develop serious health issues or permanent disabilities, and the mistakes can even be fatal. A medical malpractice lawyer in Illinois may be able to provide legal expertise to help victims or family members receive compensation to cover costs such as medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.