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Who Is Responsible for a Medication Error in the Hospital?

medication errors

Medication errors are a surging problem in healthcare facilities throughout the United States. In fact, the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation (NEHI) reports that $21 billion is spent on preventable medication errors in the United States every year. What’s more, each year, medication errors in U.S. health facilities cause approximately 7,000 patient deaths.

When a medication error occurs that has an adverse affect on a patient, that patient has legal rights, including the right to seek compensation for harm suffered. However, in order to pursue that option, the patient must be able to identify the party responsible for the error, and provide evidence to hold them liable for harm. Here’s a look into what you need to know about responsibility for medication errors in the hospital.

Types of Medication Errors

In order to understand who may be at fault for a medication error, it is first necessary to recognize that there are many different types of medication errors that can be made, and that the type of error affects liability. Medication errors include:

  • Dosage errors;
  • Administration errors;
  • Prescription errors (prescribing the wrong drug or a drug that has adverse effects for a specific patient due to allergies, other drugs, etc.);
  • Patient errors (giving the wrong drug to the wrong patient);
  • Drug preparation errors;
  • Drug mix-ups; and
  • Omission errors (failure to give a medication).

Depending upon the type of error, the effects of a medication error can be very serious. A patient may suffer a deterioration in condition if they do not receive the right medication, the right dosage of medication, or the medication at the right time (when being administered in a hospital), or may suffer adverse effects if they are given too much of a medication, a medication with serious side effects, a medication to which they are allergic, or a medication that cannot be safely taken in combination with other medications that the patient is on.

Who’s Liable for a Medication Error?

There are many different causes of medication errors, including breakdowns in communication, distractions in the workplace, failure to write things down and properly document a patient’s health history, improper labeling of medications, medication mix-ups due to similar drug names, and other factors such as understaffing, healthcare professional fatigue, etc. That being said, parties who might be held liable for a medication error might include a:

  • Pharmacist,if an error is made in filling the prescription, such as filling a bottle with the wrong medication or the wrong dosage of medication;
  • Manufacturer of medication,if the medication is defective or does not contain correct information regarding side effects, dosage, purpose, etc.;
  • Doctor, if the doctor makes a diagnosis, prescription, or dosage error;
  • Nurse or other healthcare professional responsible for the administration of the medication; or
  • Hospital, when the hospital’s practices and policies contributed to the medication error (i.e. poor nurse-to-patient ratio), or when the hospital is held liable for the actions of its employees.

In some cases, multiple parties may be held liable. It is important that the cause of a medication error is investigated to determine the source of the problem and identify the responsible party or parties.

Learn More – Contact the Law Office of J. Allan Brown, LLC Today

Medication errors can have serious and catastrophic–and sometimes even fatal–outcomes. At the Law Office of J. Allan Brown, LLC, our attorneys understand that medication errors are not inevitable in healthcare, but instead occur as a result of negligence. When a medication error is made that causes you or a loved one harm, our law firm is here to investigate the error, determine liability, and bring forth a claim to recover compensation on your behalf. To learn more about what to do after a medication error and what your legal rights are, please contact our law offices today for a free consultation. Our Mobile medical malpractice attorneys can be reached online or by phone at 251-473-6691.

J. Allan Brown, LLC
Law Office of J. Allan Brown, LLC, is located in Mobile, AL and serves clients in and around Mobile, Bucks, Satsuma, Eight Mile, Semmes, Spanish Fort, Citronelle, Theodore, Saraland, Montrose, Irvington, Saint Elmo, Wilmer, Point Clear, Grand Bay, Chunchula, Fairhope, Creola, Bayou La Batre, Axis, Coden, Bay Minette, Silverhill, Baldwin County and Mobile County.
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