San Antonio Medication Error Attorney
When you go to the hospital for a checkup, illness, or injury, you likely do not question your doctor’s medical authority. But physicians and other health care providers are only human, and they too can make medical mistakes. From anesthesia mishaps to prescribing the wrong medication, it is not uncommon for patients to file lawsuits against a facility and their doctor.
If you or a family member suffered injuries or death as a result of your care provider’s negligence, reach out to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer today. At Janicek Law, we have decades of experience in handling medical malpractice cases. We know how to help you get justice and recover damages for your injuries and losses. Call 210-366-4949 for a free consultation.
What is a Medication Error?
A medication error is just how it sounds: it occurs when a doctor prescribes the wrong prescription or the wrong dosage. While receiving the wrong drug sounds like a simple mistake, it could result in life-threatening health complications, or even wrongful death, which is why this error is grouped in the medical negligence category.
Types of Medication Errors
Common types of medication errors happen when a prescribing doctor:
- Provides the wrong prescription
- Provides the wrong dose
- Doesn’t provide a necessary medication
- Provides prescription drugs that the patient is allergic to
- Mislabels a patient’s prescription drug
- Provides a medication or a dose that negatively interacts with other drugs the patient is taking
- Fails to warn about a medication’s side effects
- Provides incorrect instructions for taking a medication
- Gives a medication to the wrong patient
How Often Do Medication Errors Happen in the U.S.?
For starters, at least 66% of Americans regularly take prescription drugs according to data from Georgetown University. With that many people relying on medication, mistakes are bound to happen.
According to the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP), medication errors are one of the most common types of medical malpractice cases. The AMCP goes on to claim that at least 1.5 million Americans suffer injuries, and even death, from medication mistakes annually. As one can imagine, it costs billions of dollars to treat drug-related injuries (and prevent deaths). In fact, it costs an estimated $3.5 billion to treat drug injuries and illnesses every year. In order to cover drug-related deaths, it costs about $77 billion.
How Medication Errors Happen
Medication mistakes can happen to anyone. In most cases, though, the mistakes happen due to:
- Poor communication between patient and doctor
- Poor communication between multiple doctors about your prescriptions
- Similar sounding drug names
- Medications that look alike
- Illegible medical abbreviations or confusion between medical abbreviations
- Pharmacy errors, such as mislabeling certain medications
- Drug manufacturer errors
- A doctor failing to run the proper tests or scans in order to diagnose a health condition and determine the proper medication to treat the health condition
- Munchausen’s by proxy which is a mental health condition in which a parent/guardian lies about their child’s health condition (or lack thereof) in order to get them unnecessary or incorrect medical care
How to Prevent Medication Errors
In most cases, medication errors are preventable. The best way to prevent confusion regarding prescription medications is to ask questions and be as honest about your medical history as possible. The next time you or a loved one is prescribed medication, make sure to ask your healthcare provider the following questions.
- Does this medication have a brand name? If so, what is it?
- What can I expect when I take this medication? What are the health benefits and what are the possible side effects?
- What should I do if I experience side effects?
- If I accidentally miss a dose, what should I do?
- What is my dosage?
- How long do I need to take this medication?
- What kind of foods, drinks, activities, or other medications should I avoid while taking this drug?
- Is it possible that this medication will negatively interact with my current medications?
Lastly, knowledge is power when it comes to any aspect of your health. If you’re concerned about your health condition, your medications, your symptoms, etc., do your own research and present it to your doctor to get their opinion.
Can You Sue a Doctor for Over-Prescribing Medication?
Yes, you have grounds to sue a medical professional for any kind of medication mistake, especially if it resulted in serious injury, illness, or death. But if you believe that you received the wrong medication or wrong dosage but you didn’t suffer side effects, then your case won’t go very far.
How to Prove a Medication Error in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
It’s not enough to say that a prescribing doctor made some kind of medication error. That’s because there are some cases where people take the wrong medication and experience no side effects. What you have to do in a medical malpractice claim like this is prove that you suffered serious harm as a direct result of a medication error. This can be difficult to do.
In any medical malpractice lawsuit, including medication error lawsuits, the plaintiff must prove the following elements of negligence.
- Duty of Care: All healthcare professionals owe their patients a specific duty of care, also known as the medical standard of care.
- Breached Duty of Care: The physician failed to provide the proper medical standard of care. In this case, they failed to take proper care by prescribing the incorrect dosage, the wrong prescription, etc.
- Causation: The patient suffered health complications as a direct result of the medical professional’s negligence.
- Damages: The patient suffered numerous non-economic and economic damages that they should receive compensation for.
In a medication error lawsuit, not only is it important to have an experienced attorney on your side to prove these elements of negligence, but it’s also important to have an expert medical witness too. This expert witness should originate from the same medical field as the negligent doctor in question so they can:
- Thoroughly analyze the patient’s medical history,
- Explain how the healthcare provider violated the medical standard of care (in this case: prescribed the wrong prescription or wrong dosage),
- And explain how the prescription error affected the patient’s life. Did they suffer injuries or die from the wrong medication or wrong dosage? How?
What is the Average Settlement Value for Medication Error Cases?
The average case settlement for medication errors ranges from $100,000 to $600,000. It’s important to note that a wrong medication lawsuit settlement varies greatly depending on the damages you suffered.
Types of Damages For Medication Error Lawsuits
It’s possible to receive the following types of non-economic and economic damages from medication error cases:
- Past and future medical bills associated with treatment for a prescription error
- Medical expenses associated with necessary equipment, such as wheelchairs or walkers, especially if the medicine mistake caused long-term health complications
- Past and future rehabilitation bills associated with recovering from a prescription error
- Counseling expenses associated with emotional anguish that you suffered from the mistake
- Lost wages, if the wrong medication or wrong dosage affected your health to the point of preventing you from going to work
- Loss of earning capacity, if the drug injury resulted in a permanent health condition or disability that prevents you from doing all the required tasks in your job
- Loss of consortium
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Funeral and burial expenses, if the patient died due to the medication mistake
Example of a Recent Medication Error Lawsuit in Texas
According to an April 2022 report, a Texas family may receive $8 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit involving the wrong medication during surgery.
John Davis sued Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital South West Fort Worth on behalf of his wife, Angela Davis, who sustained permanent brain damage because she was injected with tranexamic acid instead of a spinal anesthetic during her surgery. The injection of tranexamic acid, a medication that’s supposed to control excess bleeding, left Angela Davis permanently paralyzed due to her brain damage.
At the time of writing, the jury is placing 65% of the blame on the Fort Worth hospital and 35% of the blame on Sundance Anesthesia, the anesthesiology practice involved in the case. The Davis family could receive $8 million in damages, but only another ruling from the Tarrant County Probate Court 2 will determine who must pay the damages.