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When Medication Errors Cause Harm, Who Pays?

Almost everyone has, at some point in their life, made a trip to the pharmacy. Whether for something as simple as the flu or for something more serious, prescription medication is a fact of life. Pharmacies exist to help patients get better — which is why it can be especially devastating when a medication error causes serious harm and jeopardizes a person’s health and well-being.

How Pharmacy Errors Happen

The distribution chain for prescription medicines is a long one. Suppliers provide manufacturers with the necessary components for making the medicine. Then, wholesale distributors provide the medicine to the hospital or pharmacy, who then give it to the patient. Along the way, the medicine might be repackaged or sold to a secondary distributor. At any step of the way, a mistake or miscommunication could lead to the wrong medication — or the wrong dose of the right medication — ending up in the hands of a patient.

Regardless of where a mistake happens in the chain, the primary cause of harmful medication mistakes is simple human error. Medical professionals such as doctors and pharmacists work long hours and often deal with problems of understaffing and overwork. Under these conditions, the risk of a potentially deadly mistake multiplies.

The types of medication errors that can occur include:

  • Prescribing the wrong medication
  • Prescribing the wrong dosage of the correct medication
  • Misidentifying the patient
  • Improper computer coding of a prescription
  • Failing to warn patients about possible adverse side effects
  • Failing to identify dangerous complications, such as harmful interactions between multiple medications

Unfortunately, it only takes a single small mistake in the prescribing and dispensing process to cause a patient extreme harm and perhaps alter the course of their life forever.

Parties Who Can Be Held Liable for a Medication Error

If a harmful medication error occurs, victims may be able to seek compensation by working with an experienced pharmacy malpractice lawyer to file a personal injury claim. Individuals who may be held liable for harm due to medication errors include:

  • The pharmacist or pharmacy staff member who filled the wrong prescription (and, by association, the pharmacy itself)
  • The doctor who prescribed the wrong medication or failed to warn the patient about potentially hazardous side effects
  • Suppliers or manufacturers who allow faulty or harmful drugs into the market

Although it’s possible to hold someone accountable for a harmful medication error and get compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, you should consult an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Cases involving medication error can be incredibly complex, often hinging on medical evidence. The first step is proving that the harm suffered was caused by medication and not some other factor, which will most likely require expert medical testimony.

The next step is determining where along the chain the error occurred: Did the error occur solely with the pharmacist, or did the doctor prescribe the wrong medication? Or did the error occur even earlier with the distributor or manufacturer? Navigating the complex web of legal relationships between these different parties often takes time, know-how, and expert-resources, and it’s a task best left for an experienced pharmacy and medical malpractice attorney.

Contact Perry Charnoff If You’ve Been Harmed by a Pharmacy Mistake

If you or someone you love has suffered because of a harmful medication error, please give the attorneys at Perry Charnoff a call at (703) 291-6650 to schedule a free consultation. You can also fill out our convenient online contact form and we’ll follow up to get in touch with you right away. Statutes of limitation do apply to personal injury cases, so please don’t delay — get in touch with our legal team today to get expert advice about your case and learn about your options going forward.

The content provided in this website/blog is for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.