If you’ve been prescribed the incorrect medication, you may be entitled to claim compensation for the negative effects experienced.
Prescription error claims refer to when patients suffer harm as a result of a mistake made by a healthcare professional when prescribing or dispensing medication. These claims can arise from a variety of errors, including incorrect dosage, wrong medication, or failure to identify potential drug interactions. Patients or their families can file these claims, seeking compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In some cases, healthcare professionals may face disciplinary action or loss of their license as a result of a prescription error claim. In this article, we will discuss the causes of prescription medication errors, the effects this can cause and what you can do if you have been a victim of medical negligence in relation to a prescription error.
Examples of prescription errors include an incorrect medication being prescribed, a wrong dosage being prescribed, an incorrect frequency or duration of medication being prescribed, and prescription being given to the wrong person. In addition, errors can occur due to illegible handwriting, misinterpretation of medication names or decimal points, or mistakes made during the transmission of electronic prescriptions. As well as this, if the patient is in hospital or in a care setting, they may be given an incorrect drug by a nurse of healthcare worker.
Your healthcare provider owes you a duty of care when you seek medical attention. This means that your provider must provide treatment that is set to a certain professional standard. When their treatment falls below this standard, medical negligence occurs. In order to claim compensation for medical negligence, you must prove that you have suffered as a result of that negligence. In the context of medication errors, you must prove that that you have experienced a new injury because of the medication error.
Effects of being Prescribed/Dispensed the Incorrect Medication
- Stomach ulcers.
- Damage to the internal organs – such a kidney damage, brain damage, liver damage or lung damage.
- Pain and discomfort if the medication has intensified your condition.
- Condition does not improve causing you to feel unwell for longer than you would have if you were given the correct medication.
- Mental health difficulties due to feeling unwell.
- In some circumstances, even death, this could be because the medication prescribed could be harmful to them or the failure to treat the patient’s condition has made their condition worsen and become fatal.
Responsibility of Medication Errors
Prescription errors can have multiple responsible parties. This can include the prescribing healthcare provider who writes the prescription such as your GP, to the pharmacist who fills the prescription, or even the patient themselves who may misinterpret instructions or fail to disclose information to their healthcare provider.
The Bolam Test is a legal principle used in medical negligence cases. It determines whether a healthcare professional acted appropriately by comparing their conduct with that of a responsible body of medical opinion. The test sets a standard for what constitutes a breach of duty of care in medical practice. If it is established that your healthcare provider did not act according to another reasonable healthcare professional in their field, you may be entitled to compensation for the injuries/ailments sustained.
Causes of Prescription Errors
- Misdiagnosis. Medical negligence does not always need to be the reason you are misdiagnosed. Your doctor may be providing a good standard of care. However, if you are misdiagnosed because of negligence and prescribed medication that caused harm, you may be entitled to compensation. For example, a GP diagnoses chest pain as indigestion when the chest pain is actually an early sign of a heart attack. The GP prescribes NSAIDs which increase the risk of heart attacks.
- Dosage errors. The correct medication may be prescribed but at an incorrect dose. It could be too low so your condition does not improve, or too high which becomes harmful.
- You’re prescribed the wrong medication. If you have an infection, but your doctor prescribes an antiviral medication rather than antibiotics.
- Your prescription is illegible or mis-spelled.
- Your given the wrong prescription – the pharmacist may give you a different patients medication.
- Labelling issues at the pharmacy resulting in you being given the wrong medication that appears to be correct.
Evidence needed to support your claim
If you wish to pursue a claim due to a prescription error, you must provide evidence that:
- You were treated by a healthcare provider (GP, nurse, pharmacist), who had a duty of care for you.
- This duty of care was breached by making an error with your prescription.
- The medication error caused injury.
Examples of evidence, could include:
- A chronological timeline of events such as when side effects started to occur.
- Medical records.
- Doctor’s notes.
- If appropriate, photos of any physical symptoms or injuries.
- Copies of your prescriptions.
Compensation – general damages
The below table shows some examples of injuries that may be sustained and the amount of compensation that could be awarded when a patient is given the incorrect medication or the incorrect dosage of medication.
|Kidney – loss of functioning up to needed to have both kidneys removed||From up to £63,980 to £210,400|
|Digestive system illness – Most severe: Severe toxicosis resulting in vomiting, fever, acute pain requiring hospital admission for days or weeks.||£38,430 to £52,500|
|Digestive system illness – Severe: Vomiting and diarrhoea lasting 2 to 4 weeks.||£9,540 to £19,200|
|Digestive system illness – Moderate: stomach cramps and fatigue lasting a few weeks – full recovery in 2 years||£3,950 – £9,540|
|Digestive system illness – Minor: cramps, pain and diarrhoea lasting days or weeks||£910 – £3,950|
|PTSD – Moderately severe: leaves you unable to cope with outside work such as working.||£23,150 – £59,860|
|Mental anguish – injuries that cause you to fear your life expectancy may be reduced||£4,670|
Further Losses – special damages
In addition to the compensation received for the injury or illness caused by negligence, you may also be awarded further special damages. These are losses that you have incurred due to the injury or illness. Examples include:
- Loss of earnings
- Travel expenses – between medical appointments
- Prescription costs
- Private medical costs
- Loss of future earnings
- Care and assistance required
- Adjustments required to make your home more accessible
Evidence will be needed to support your claim for special damages such as wage slips and receipts.
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We will deal with your claim on a no win, no fee basis so you don’t need to worry about any costs. To get started, simply fill in our contact form and someone from our team will be in touch for a free consultation. Or you can also call 01772 356201 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.