Patients can suffer serious harm as a result of many different forms of medical malpractice, from mistakes made in surgery to diagnostic errors that result in missed and delayed diagnoses. One common type of mistake that health care providers make is a medication error. Various health care providers can be responsible for injuries resulting from medication mistakes, such as a prescribing physician or nurse practitioner, or a pharmacist who makes an error when filling a prescription. What do you need to know about how these errors happen and what you can do to seek compensation?
What is a Medication Error?
In order to have a clearer understanding of how medication mistakes happen in Rochester and elsewhere in Upstate New York, it is critical to learn about the kinds of errors that might be defined as medication mistakes. What is a medication mistake? The National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention (NCCMERP), a medication error like this:
“A medication error is any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient, or consumer. Such events may be related to professional practice, health care products, procedures, and systems, including prescribing, order communication, product labeling, packaging, nomenclature, compounding, dispensing, distribution, administration, education, monitoring, and use.”
As you can see, medication mistakes can take many different forms, and as such, a wide variety of health care providers can make errors and omissions that ultimately lead to medication errors and patient harm.
Common Ways Medication Errors Occur in Rochester
Medication errors can happen in a variety of ways in Rochester, such as:
- Prescribing physicians fail to communicate properly with one another;
- Communication issue between prescribing physician and patient, which results in the provider misunderstanding an issue the patient is having, or the patient misunderstanding instructions for using the medication;
- A prescribing provider fails to carefully read the patient’s medical records, including existing medications and drug allergies;
- Prescribing health care provider prescribes the wrong medication or the wrong dosage due to an issue like being tired or burned out;
- Medication name is entered incorrectly into the electronic system, resulting in the wrong drug being given to a patient;
- Dosage information is entered incorrectly into the electronic system, resulting in a patient receiving the correct drug but the wrong dosage;
- The pharmacist fills the wrong prescription or dosage because of drug names that sound similar or medications that look similar to one another;
- Pharmacist error reading a drug abbreviation; or
- The pharmacist fills the wrong medication or dosage due to distraction or being tired.
How Patients Can Take Steps to Avoid Harm from a Medication Mistake
Patients should not have to live in fear that a health care provider will make a medication mistake that results in harm, and patients should not be responsible for preventing errors. However, since health care providers do make mistakes, it is important for patients to be proactive and to take steps to help avoid suffering a serious injury due to a medication mistake. What can patients do to keep themselves safe and healthy? The Mayo Clinic recommends that patients always ask the following questions of a health care provider if they are not entirely sure of the answer:
- What is the brand name of the medication I will be taking, and what are generic versions that would be acceptable to use?
- What is the medication designed to do?
- How long should I expect to use the medication before I see results from it?
- What is the correct dosage of the medication for me?
- How long and how frequently should I be taking the medication?
- What do I need to do if I miss a dose of the medication, forget to take it, or take it later than usual?
- Should I avoid any specific medications (prescription or over-the-counter) while I am using this particular medication?
- Are there any foods I should avoid while I am using this medication?
- Are there any activities I should avoid while I am using this medication?
- What are the possible side effects of using this drug, and what should I do if I experience them?
Patients should also remind a prescribing physician and a pharmacist of any medication they are currently using to ensure that there are no harmful drug interactions, in addition to reminding those providers about known drug allergies.
Contact a Rochester Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
If you suffered harm due to a medication mistake, you could be eligible to file a medical malpractice claim. You should seek advice from one of our Rochester medical malpractice attorneys today. Contact Powers & Santola, LLP to learn more about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit after a medication error.