Medication Mistakes and Medication Negligence

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Many medications carry some level of risk from side effects. However, when the doctor, hospital, or pharmacist makes a mistake in the medication, they may be increasing the risk of serious injury or death. Doctors, hospitals, and pharmacists have a duty of care to their patients. If these medical professionals breach their duty of care which results in injury or death, they may be liable for the damages. 

According to the National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention, a medication error is defined as: "any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the healthcare professional, patient, or consumer.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) receives more than 100,000 reports each year related to suspected medication errors. Medication errors can cause serious harm to patients, including: 

  • Liver problems,
  • Hospitalization, 
  • Addiction, 
  • Disabilities, 
  • Birth defects, 
  • Life-threatening situations, and
  • Death.

If you were injured or a loved one died because of a suspected medication error, contact an experienced Georgia medical negligence lawyer as soon as possible to understand your rights and how to recover damages. 

Common Medication Errors in Georgia

Medication errors can take place at many points along the patient care timeline. This includes the time from designing and testing a drug through the time when the drug is administered to the patient. Medication errors can occur during: 

  • Ordering,
  • Prescribing,
  • Documentation,
  • Transcription,
  • Dispensing,
  • Administering, and
  • Monitoring.

According to one study, medication errors are most common in ordering the drug or prescribing the medications. Ordering errors account for almost half of all medication errors. Some of the common medication errors for patients in Georgia include: 

  • Wrong medication;
  • Wrong dose;
  • Wrong route of administration;
  • Wrong frequency; 
  • Wrong time;
  • Wrong patient; 
  • Improper dose;
  • Unauthorized drug; 
  • Dispensing errors;
  • Improper drug handling; and
  • Monitoring errors.

For example, a doctor may have been thinking about a new drug that a drug sales rep was pushing and written the name of that drug and mixing it up with the appropriate drug. Alternatively, a doctor may have accidentally written a prescription for a drug to be taken every three hours instead of 3 times per day. These minor clerical errors can have a major impact on a patient's health and well-being. 

Causes of Medication Errors  

There are a number of causes of medication errors, including distractions, illegible writing, and distortion of the doctors' written prescription orders. Often, these problems are caused by negligence, carelessness, forgetfulness, rushing, or poor motivation. 

Other errors occur during administration of the drugs. Most healthcare professionals are familiar with the “5 Rights” of medication use: 

  1. The right patient;
  2. The right drug;
  3. The right time;
  4. The right dose; and
  5. The right route.

Any error involving medication puts the patient at risk of injury or death. It is important to hold the negligent parties responsible for their actions to reduce the risks of medication errors for other patients and their families. 

Who is Responsible for Medication Errors?

Manufacturing, prescribing, and administering medication involves multiple parties. Unfortunately for the victim, they may not know who was responsible for the medical error. This is one reason that it is important to file a medical error lawsuit. 

Through a medical error lawsuit investigation, it will be possible to identify the party or parties who were responsible for the negligence. Individuals or businesses who may be responsible for a medical error may include: 

  • Pharmaceutical company,
  • Drug manufacturer, 
  • Doctor, 
  • Physician assistant, 
  • Hospital, 
  • Pharmacist, 
  • Pharmacy, and
  • Nurse.

Identifying all those responsible for dangerous medical errors will not only make sure they are held liable for their actions, but it can also help prevent future errors and protect others from medical negligence that could put them at risk of injury or death. 

Who Can Prescribe and Administer Medication?

The law in Georgia limits who can prescribe and administer medication. This is supposed to limit the potential for abuse and harm when making medication mistakes. However, even trained doctors and pharmacists can make mistakes that put the patient at risk of injury. Certain professionals can prescribe drugs, subject to some limitations, including: 

  • Physicians (MD)
  • Osteopathic Physicians (DO)
  • Dentists (DDS)
  • Optometrists (subject to restrictions)
  • Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners (APRN) (subject to restrictions)
  • Physician Assistants (PA)
  • Podiatric Physicians (DPM)

Other professionals can administer medication, although they cannot prescribe controlled substances. This includes registered nurses, paramedics, and Certified Nurses Aides (CNA) with a Certified Medication Aide (CMA) certificate. 

How Much Time to File a Medical Error Claim

There is a limited amount of time to file a claim for injuries caused by a medical error in Georgia. The statute of limitations for most personal injury and medical malpractice cases in Georgia is 2 years. An injury victim generally has to file a personal injury lawsuit within 2 years from the date of the injury or accident. 

If the medical error is due to medical malpractice, there may be more time to file a lawsuit if the error was not discovered until later. It is important to contact your Atlanta medication error lawyer as soon as possible after discovering a medication error injury or death. If your claim is filed even one day late, you may lose out on your right to recover damages. 

Atlanta Medication Error Lawyers  

At The Kaplan Firm, PC, our medication error lawyers have decades of experience fighting for our clients against doctors and hospitals. After a wrong medication error, you and your family deserve to have someone on your side to fight for your rights. At The Kaplan Firm, PC, we work on a contingency basis and will never collect any fees until you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today at our Roswell, Georgia location for a free initial consultation. 

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Over the years, we have collected over $225 million in verdicts and settlements for our clients and that number is growing every day.

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