A medication error claim is initiated when a healthcare professional, nurse, doctor, or anyone in charge of distributing medication to a patient gets the medication wrong and causes harm to the patient as a result. Medication errors are fully preventable in most cases and can result in many situations in the healthcare setting.
What Are the Consequences of Medication Errors?
In the case of a medication error, the consequences to a patient can be any of the following:
Resulting in a fatality
How Do Medication Errors Occur?
A medication error can occur at any time during the patient’s care routine in a hospital or care facility. Medication errors can occur in a variety of healthcare environments, including:
School nurse’s office
Urgent care clinic
Assisted living facility
When a healthcare professional tasked with giving a patient a medication gets the medication wrong, it can seriously affect the patient. The patient can sustain an adverse reaction, break out in hives, suffer a serious side effect or even die due to the medication error. Therefore, it is important that once a medication error is discovered, that the healthcare professional report the error immediately to the healthcare professional’s director or other care managers.
Why Wouldn’t the Medication Error Be Reported?
There are many reasons why a healthcare professional does not immediately report a medication error. The person may be:
Afraid of repercussions
Fearful of being fired
Afraid of being written up
Unsure of consequences for mistakes
Embarrassed for making the mistake
Feels guilty for hurting a patient
Feels shame for getting the dosage wrong
Feels incompetent as a healthcare provider
Of course, none of these are valid reasons for not reporting a medication error as a healthcare provider. In fact, notice that all of the reasons for failing to report medication errors deal with the personal feelings of the healthcare provider who is in the wrong! Furthermore, none of these reasons for failure to report a medication error are to the benefit of the patient. On the contrary, each of these reasons is an attempt to justify covering up the mistake of giving a patient the wrong medication.
Don’t Healthcare Professionals Know What They Are Doing?
This is a very good question. By and large, healthcare professionals know what they are doing and work to the best of their ability to provide high-quality care for the benefit of the patients. Healthcare workers are in the business of helping all patients to become better, to help ease their pain and help the patients to help heal any illnesses that they have at that time. In general, there are no healthcare workers who are intentionally passing the wrong medication to the patient – but mistakes do happen!
When Do Most Medication Errors Occur?
When a healthcare professional gives a patient the wrong medication, there are reasons for this mistake. Some professionals can give a patient the wrong medication when the healthcare worker, nurse, or doctor is:
Interrupted when preparing the medication
Overworked from working too many overtime hours
Stressed out and distracted with too many people talking in the background
New to the job and needs more training on safe medication distribution
Mixing up the patient dosage and gives it to the wrong patient
Unable to read the medication as written by the doctor (and not verified by the pharmacy)
Are All Medication Errors the Result of Negligence?
Again, this is an excellent question. The answer is “Yes” and “No.” There can be close cases where there was no outward negligence when a medication error occurs, but upon a much closer look and a review of the facts, it may be found that there was a case of negligence that emerges after all. In the cases of negligence, there may be grave consequences, including:
Medical board discipline and review
Revocation of medical board licenses
Loss of patient trust
Death of a patient
Wrongful death claim
Emotional suffering by the family
Loss of wages by the patient
Longer recovery times for the patient
Additional medical problems brought on by the medication error
What Precautions Are Put into Place to Prevent Medication Errors?
Hospitals, urgent care clinics, healthcare facilities, and other healthcare providers have protocols, practices, and procedures to help prevent medication errors. These procedures are often called “best practices,” and they are used daily to help stop medication errors with patients. Some examples of medication error prevention strategies include the following:
Computerized physician order entries
No handwritten prescriptions
Bar code assisted administration
Pharmacy verification of medication
Improvements in drug labeling
Full disclosure when mistakes are made with medications
Patient wristband identification verifications and procedures
My Loved One Suffered a Medication Error, What Do I Do Next?
Suppose your loved one in a healthcare facility, clinic, urgent care facility, school nurse’s office, assisted living facility, or nursing home has suffered a medication error. In that case, it is time to talk to one of our injury and accident attorneys regarding your claim. There can be serious damages to the patient due to a medication error, and these cases can also result in the death of a patient. We are here for you and can investigate your claim and advise you regarding your next steps to follow up on this claim. Your loved one deserves to be reimbursed for any damages, medical issues caused by the medication error and should be able to recover compensation for the healthcare worker’s mistake in these cases. Just give us a call at (833) 254-2923 at the CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm and we will be able to talk to you about your claim for medical medication errors.