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Medication is a cornerstone of modern medicine, but even life-saving drugs can cause harm if administered incorrectly. These medication errors can range from a missed dose to receiving the entirely wrong drug. But when does a mistake cross the line into medical malpractice?

Understanding Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice arises when a healthcare provider strays from the established norms of treatment, causing harm to a patient. The "standard of care" refers to the actions that a skilled medical professional with similar training and experience would undertake under comparable circumstances.

Simply experiencing a negative side effect from a medication wouldn't be malpractice, but a doctor failing to warn you about a known risk could be. Incorrectly diagnosing medication or dosages can also be considered malpractice.

The Many Faces of Medication Error Negligence

Medication errors can arise from negligence at various points in the healthcare chain. Here are some common examples:

  • Prescribing errors. A doctor prescribes the wrong medication dosage or fails to consider potential interactions with other medications the patient is taking.
  • Dispensing errors. A pharmacist mistakenly dispenses the wrong medication or dosage.
  • Administration errors. A nurse administers the wrong medication dosage or via the incorrect route (e.g., intravenous instead of oral).
  • Communication lapses. Crucial information about a patient's allergies or medical history is not communicated or documented effectively, leading to a medication error.

Liability for Medication Errors

Depending on the specific circumstances, various parties may be liable for a medication error that qualifies as medical malpractice. These could include:

  • Doctors. They are responsible for prescribing the correct medication and considering potential interactions.
  • Pharmacists. They have a duty to dispense the correct medication based on the doctor's order and identify potential problems.
  • Nurses. They are responsible for administering medications according to the doctor's orders and following proper procedures.
  • Hospitals and clinics. They may be held responsible for systemic failures that contribute to medication errors, such as inadequate staffing or unclear policies.

Building Your Case: Evidence for Medication Error Malpractice

Medication errors can have devastating consequences. If you believe a healthcare professional's negligence caused you harm through a medication error, you'll need strong evidence to build a medical malpractice case. Below, we discuss what kinds of evidence can help prove your claim:

Medical Records

These are the foundations of any medical malpractice case. Your medical records should document:

  • The medication prescribed, dosage, and route of administration.
  • Any allergies or existing medical conditions you have.
  • The medication you actually received.
  • Any adverse reactions you experienced.

Pharmacy Records

Similarly, pharmacy records can verify the medication dispensed, dosage, and potential warnings issued. These records can also show which pharmacist handled your medication.

Expert Testimony

A medical expert is crucial to establish the standard of care in your situation. They can explain if the healthcare professional's actions deviated from this standard and how this deviation caused your injury.

Witness Statements

Statements from nurses, other medical staff, or even family members who witnessed the medication error or your reaction can be valuable corroborating evidence. Don't delay in gathering evidence. Memories fade, and records retention policies can lead to the destruction of documents over time.

Other Supporting Documentation

Keep any receipts from the pharmacy, discharge instructions, or doctor's notes mentioning the medication. You should also keep the following information:

  • If you experience side effects, document them with photos or a detailed journal.
  • Evidence of lost wages, medical bills, or other damages incurred due to the medication error can strengthen your case.

The Bottom Line

Not all medication errors rise to the level of malpractice. However, if a healthcare professional's negligence caused you harm, you may have a case. Consulting with a medical malpractice attorney can help you determine if your situation qualifies and what steps you can take.

Discuss Your Case with Our Team

An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can assist you in gathering and examining evidence, pinpointing responsible individuals, and constructing a solid case to pursue financial redress for the harm you endured as a result of the medication mistake.

At Zayas Law Firm, our attorneys are here and equipped to help with your medical malpractice claim. Backed by over 50 years of collective experience, you can trust us to work hard to understand your needs and develop a personalized case strategy.

Get started on your case today. Call (860) 854-9156.

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