Virginia Medication Error Attorney
A medication error is, by definition, a preventable event that can cause inappropriate medication use or patient harm. They can occur when a drug is prescribed by a doctor; entered into a computer system; prepared, filled or dispensed by a pharmacist; or administered to a patient. Medication errors are serious; they can lead to hospitalization, disability, life-threatening situations, birth defects, or death. They are also not uncommon; the FDA gets more than 100,000 reports every year regarding a suspected medication error.
Medication errors committed by doctors, nurses, hospitals or pharmacies are a form of medical malpractice, and the Virginia medication error attorney at MichieHamlett can help when you have been harmed by a medication error. Call us for a free, confidential consultation to discuss your concerns and any potential claims you may have.
What Are Common Types of Medication Errors?
One of the most common forms of medication error occurs when the wrong medicine is given. Although doctors can make a mistake in prescribing the wrong medication, usually the error occurs when the prescription is filled incorrectly at the pharmacy, or the nurse administers the wrong medicine at the hospital or clinic. There are thousands of drugs on the market, and many have very similar shapes or names but vastly different uses. Because of these similarities, it is easy for a rushed, distracted, negligent or inexperienced medical professional to pick the wrong medicine, sometimes with disastrous results to the patient. The effects of a medication error can range from the condition not getting better to life-threatening or fatal harm.
Sometimes, the right medicine might be chosen, but the wrong dosage is prescribed, filled or administered. Dosage strength can differ depending on the form of medicine (tablet, liquid), the patient’s weight and other factors. Too little dosage can render the medication ineffective, while too much can cause an overdose with serious health effects.
Other common medication errors include:
- Overriding safeguards put in place for proper medication use
- Using medication that has deteriorated or is out-of-date
- Storing medications improperly
- Mixing different medications in the same drawer
- Filling dispensing machines with the wrong medicine
- Failing to pay attention to the label
- Making errors when restocking medications
- Failing to involve the pharmacist in preparing or dispensing medications
- Forgetting to administer medication in a hospital setting
- Mixing up mediations and delivering the wrong drug to the patient
How Can Medication Errors Be Prevented?
One of the most frustrating aspects of medication errors is that they can so easily be prevented by paying attention and implementing simple, commonsense solutions. Using electronic medical records, barcoding, standardized systems and handheld PDAs can help remove errors, but only if medical providers are diligent when entering information and using these systems consistently. Other simple steps that can prevent medication errors include:
- Have the pharmacist help with calculating the correct dose
- Review the medication and dosage before dispensing or administering
- Require double check and triple check medications
- Have doctors and nurses work together and double-sign high-alert medications
- Stock look-alike drug names by category, not alphabetically
It’s up to hospitals and pharmacies to implement procedures like these and make sure they are followed. The institution or facility can be just as liable as the person who made the error.
Are Medication Errors Serious?
Medication mistakes might not cause severe harm, but at the very least, the patient is not being treated properly if not given the correct medication at the proper dosage. Adverse effects from medication errors can range from the mild to the most serious, including allergic reaction, anaphylactic shock, organ failure, and death.
More than half of all Americans take at least one medication regularly. Many people take multiple medications, often from different medical providers. When prescribing a medicine, filling a prescription, or administering a dose, it’s essential that the healthcare professional understand the patient’s medical history, drug allergies, and the potential interactions between the current drug and other medications the patient is taking.
Get Help With Medication Error Injuries in Virginia
If you think you may have been harmed by a medication error or other medical mistake in a Virginia hospital, pharmacy or doctor’s office, call MichieHamlett at 434-951-7200. We invite you to share your concerns with us over a no-cost, confidential consultation. We’ll help you figure out what went wrong and work to make sure you get the right medical care along with compensation for any needless harm inflicted on you.