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Prescription Drug (Medication) Errors

Medical Malpractice Attorney for Kentucky

Prescription drugs (medication) can pose significant risks to patients if drugs (medicines) are prescribed, monitored or used incorrectly or if they are dosed or filled incorrectly. Doctors should properly diagnose a patient’s disease or condition and prescribe the correct type and amount of medication with knowledge, skill and consideration of risk. It is also important to understand the patient’s medical history (such as history of drug allergies) and all other medications the patient is taking. Unfortunately doctors do not always meet these standards of care, and as a result the patient suffers. It is also important that the pharmacist and the pharmacy have safeguards in place. Pharmacists and Pharmacies are educated to consider prescriptions and a patient’s other medications.

By definition, medical malpractice is when a healthcare provider has failed to provide medical care that meets the required standards of practice due to negligence or wrongdoing. Additionally, this negligence then results in the injury or death of a patient.Medical Malpractice in Kentucky can arise from the negligent care of doctors and/or pharmacists.

Medication Errors Occur for Different Reasons

  • Drug interactions
  • Allergic reactions
  • Improper monitoring of patients taking prescription drugs
  • Incorrect dosages
  • Incomplete patient health information
  • Pharmacy errors

Drug Interactions can have several different effects. Certain medications nullify or lessen the effects of other medications. Conversely, some medicines amplify or increase the effects of other medicines. Multi drug toxicity is a condition that can arise when a mix of medications results in damage or injury.

A history of allergic reactions to medications can be critical information for both the doctor and the pharmacist (and the patient). Allergic reactions (such as anaphylactic shock or anaphylaxis) can be severe and result in permanent injury or death.

Improper monitoring of patients taking prescription drugs can also have devastating consequences. It is critical for the prescribing doctor to watch for and listen for signs and symptoms of adverse reactions. Again, permanent injury or death can occur when the prescribing doctor fails to properly monitor the patient.

Typically dosage is based upon body weight. Too much medicine can pose problems as can too little. Often the manner in which medicine is taken can be important. Some medicines must be divided into several doses within each day. Some medicines should be taken with food. Time of day may be important. Some foods must be avoided with certain medicines (for example, grapefruit is not to be consumed by a patient taking Lipitor).

The patient also has responsibility. Failure to tell the doctor and the pharmacist of drug allergies and other medications puts the doctor and the pharmacist at a disadvantage.

The Kentucky Pharmacist and Pharmacy also has responsibility and an obligation to fill each prescription with the correct medication, in the correct dosage and instruct the patient appropriately. Pharmacy errors can cause major permanent injuries and death if the error is not caught in time.

The medical community, realizing there is a problem with prescription drug errors, is taking steps to reduce these risks, especially with the miscommunication problems of some medication orders. There is discussion to automate the process to take out problems associated with handwriting errors, abbreviation errors, and sound-alike drugs. There are also software (computer) programs that certain Kentucky Pharmacies utilize to check and confirm contra-indications or potential adverse reactions/interactions. The administration of drugs may also be automated to eliminate dosage issues.

Common Prescription Drug Errors

Opioids, tranquilizers and sedatives are the most common drugs that are involved in drug overdoses. These drugs are widely prescribed and available. The habit-forming nature of these drugs also makes them dangerous.

Common prescription drugs in these categories are:

  • Morphine
  • Methadone
  • Oxycontin
  • Demerol
  • Percocet
  • Xanax
  • Valium
  • Ativan
  • Vicodin

When a Kentucky physician prescribes a medication (s)he should take a full patient history to determine the correct drug and dosage level. The doctor should understand if a patient has a history or abusing painkillers or other drugs. Tolerance levels can be affected by other medications or ailments. For example, cancer patients often have low tolerance levels due to the effects of chemotherapy.

A doctor must also monitor a patient to see any drug reactions. The family of a patient should also be educated as to potential signs of a drug reaction/overdose so that the patient will receive immediate medical attention. If a doctor fails to perform these practices, he may negligent in the care of the patient and could be served with a medical malpractice lawsuit.

If you or a family member has suffered a life impacting prescription drug error or medication error or pharmacy error, you may be eligible for compensation and monetary damages. A Kentucky medical malpractice attorney can assist you in evaluating your personal injury claim and navigating your way through the legal process so that you can spend your time and energy on your health.

You are welcome and encouraged to consult with Brett H. Oppenheimer, PLLC. Contact Brett H. Oppenheimer to schedule a free consultation. Call Brett at (502) 242-8877.