As prescription drugs become more omnipresent, the complications that arise from improper medications also increase. A mistake in medication can result in serious problems for the patient, including the possibility of killing them if the medication interferes with a preexisting medical condition or if someone administers the wrong medication. Medication and pharmacy errors can result from several sources: Manufacturing processes, the health care provider, and the pharmacy that releases the medication to the patient all can be a source of these errors.
Types of Medication Errors
A complication from improper medication can arise from a number of sources, including:
- Defective drugs. A drug may be defective by design, manufacture, or carry improper usage instructions or warnings from the manufacturer. In these situations, a product liability claim may also arise; some defective medications have resulted in class action lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies that developed and released drugs for sale after numerous patients had experienced consistent adverse effects.
- Prescribing the wrong medication. The doctor may prescribe the wrong drug for a patient. The pharmacy fills the prescription is not at fault since the pharmacist followed the prescription provided by the patient’s doctor.
- Incorrect dosage. The doctor may prescribe the incorrect dosage of the medication or the pharmacy may supply the patient with an incorrect dosage.
- Failure to ensure informed consent. The doctor must thoroughly explain the benefits and risks of a prescribed drug, and the pharmacist must clearly explain the proper use of the medication.
- Failure to address possible interferences. A drug may cause complications if taken with other drugs or if the patient has a preexisting condition that is not compatible with the prescribed medication.
- The wrong medication is distributed. A doctor may prescribe the proper medication and dosage, but a pharmacy error may result in the patient receiving the wrong drug. A pharmacist may also misread the doctor’s handwriting, causing them to fill the prescription with an incorrect drug that has a similarly spelled name.
These are just a few examples of the problems that may arise from mistakes with prescription medications. The fault may lie with the manufacturer, distributor, shipper, prescribing doctor, or pharmacy technician. A drug may be properly developed, prescribed, and released to the patient, but complications that arise may be the fault of a distributor or shipper who exposed the drugs to unsafe environmental conditions while traveling from the manufacturer to the pharmacy.
What Patients Can Do
One of the best ways patients can help prevent these errors is to ask their doctor questions about the medication they are receiving, the proper ways to use it, any potential hazards associated with the drug, and the correct dosage. The pharmacy is required to fill the prescription provided by the doctor, so make sure to ask questions if something doesn’t seem right or if you think you received the wrong medication. Health care professionals and pharmacists are required to serve their patients responsibly, but you should always be careful where your health is concerned.
If you have suffered an illness, injury, or a loved one has died as the result of a pharmacy or prescription error, it’s important to know your rights. At Douglas, Haun & Heidemann, we have protected the rights of our clients in Springfield and the state of Missouri since our firm’s founding in 1912, and our extensive experience allows us to navigate any pharmacy or medication error case competently.
Sometimes reasonable mistakes happen, but if you have suffered due to negligence from another party, you shouldn’t have to bear the consequences on your own. We believe in holding the responsible parties accountable for their negligent actions. Contact our team of legal experts to talk about your case or if you have any questions about a pharmacy error in Springfield, Mo.