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Philadelphia Medication Error Lawyer

One-third of adults in the United States take 5 or more medications daily, and there are over 10,000 prescription medications from which clinicians can choose, all of which have their own dosages, instructions, and routes of administration.  Unfortunately, this leaves a great deal of room for error. If you or a loved one has experienced an injury, illness or another adverse effect from a medication error made by your physician, clinician or pharmacy, contact Youman & Caputo for a free case evaluation. We are dedicated Philadelphia medication error lawyers who can help you understand your legal rights and pursue fair financial compensation.

What Are Medication Errors?

Medication errors, sometimes called adverse drug events, are one of the most common preventable medical mistakes in all medical care settings. They occur in both the outpatient and inpatient setting as well as during the transition from inpatient to outpatient. Medication errors are mistakes made by those in charge of prescribing and administering drugs, including doctors, nurses and pharmacies. They can describe:

  • Prescribing the incorrect medication
  • Prescribing the wrong dosage
  • Failing to check a patient’s medical history
  • Failing to prevent an adverse drug interaction
  • Failing to inform a patient of potential negative effects or allergy risks
  • Incorrectly filling a prescription
  • Mixing up two patients
  • Mislabeling a medication
  • Administering the wrong drug or dosage to a patient
  • Administering medication at the wrong time
  • Pharmaceutical company errors, such as drug defects

Medication errors are estimated to account for 700,000 emergency department visits and 100,000 hospitalizations each year. In addition, a staggering 5% of hospitalized patients experience a medication error. Medication errors are likewise common in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

While most hospitals, long-term care facilities, pharmacies and physician offices have the required policies in place to avoid medication errors, these errors continue to happen because of system flaws, failure to follow proper safety procedures, human error, and poor safety culture. When a preventable medication error causes patient harm, the victim can file a Philadelphia medical malpractice lawsuit for compensation.

What Are Common Types of Medication Errors?

Medication errors generally fall into four categories: Ordering, Transcribing, Dispensing, and Administration.

  • Ordering errors occur when the clinician fails to select the appropriate medication or proper dose, frequency, route of administration or duration. In patients with drug allergies or sensitivities, the wrong medication can have severe consequences, including death. Likewise, the ordering physician must be aware of potential drug-drug interactions and contraindications in particular patients.
  • Transcribing errors can take several forms. In a paper-based prescription system, an intermediary (pharmacist, pharmacy technician, hospital clerk or nurse) must read and interpret the prescription correctly. Poor handwriting, misinterpretation or a misplaced decimal point can easily result in the administration of the wrong medication or an over or under dosage. In a computer-based system, similar errors can occur if the prescription is not accurately entered into the system or is misinterpreted by the person filling the prescription.
  • Dispensing errors involve the delivery of the wrong medication or dosage. Dispensing errors occur when the prescription is proper but the pharmacist fails to deliver the correct medication in the correct quantity, dosage and/or form. Dispensing errors can also occur as a result of the pharmacist failing to check for drug-drug interactions and allergies, as is required.
  • Administration errors occur when the correct medication is not supplied to the correct patient at the correct time by the correct route of administration. This includes not only the delivery of pills to a patient but also the hanging and administration of IV medications. In a hospital or long-term care settings, medication administration is usually a nursing function, but can also occur in surgery and/or anesthesia setting.

Any type of avoidable medication error in Philadelphia could entitle you to financial compensation from the at-fault doctor, health care professional or drug distributor.

philadelphia medication error attorney

What Are the Consequences of Medication Errors?

The wrong medication delivered in the wrong way can have devastating consequences – including injury or death. Medication errors can also result in overdosages, under dosages, allergic reactions, or a number of other avoidable, unintended consequences. A victim who does not receive the correct medication may not be able to recover from his or her health condition, for example. In addition, receiving the wrong medication could result in dangerous drug interactions or other health consequences.

For example, in the DiTore case, a surgeon injected a young woman undergoing routine sinus surgery with the wrong drug because the nurse had mixed up the drugs and the doctor and patient care team had failed to follow safety protocols involving communication and drug labeling designed to prevent such mix-ups. The patient went into cardiac arrest and suffered permanent brain damage.

Philadelphia brain injury attorney Andy Youman represented the family in the resulting Montgomery County case, and he won a $5.1 million jury verdict for the family.

Who Could Be Liable for Prescription Medication Errors?

Medication errors also come with legal consequences. In Pennsylvania, a patient who has been injured because of a medication error may have the right to bring a personal injury lawsuit against one or more parties. Identifying the liable or at-fault party may require an in-depth investigation by a law firm. Liable parties may include:

  • A health care worker. Doctors and nurses have obligations of care to their patients, including an obligation to prescribe and administer medications to the right patient in the correct amount. Failing to uphold the medical industry’s standards of patient care is an act of medical malpractice that can result in a lawsuit.
  • A hospital or health care facility. If the health care worker was an employee of a hospital or health care center – or if the facility itself made a mistake that resulted in the medication error, such as poor hiring and training practices – the medical facility could face liability for a patient’s injury or death.
  • A pharmacy. Pharmacies have a responsibility to properly fill prescriptions, including correctly labeling them and administering them to the right patients. A negligent pharmacist or pharmacy can make mistakes that risk patient lives, such as poor communication or lack of training, and be held liable for the consequences.
  • A pharmaceutical company. Some medication-related injuries and deaths stem from mistakes made by the pharmaceutical manufacturing company, such as production or marketing defects. The company can be held legally responsible for a drug defect without proof of negligence under Pennsylvania’s strict product liability law.

In Philadelphia, a successful medical malpractice, product liability or personal injury lawsuit for a medication error (based on the circumstances) could result in financial compensation given to you for your related economic and non-economic damages. If this type of error has injured you, you may be eligible for compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, legal expenses, and more.

How a Philadelphia Medication Error Lawyer Can Help

Hiring the right attorney can make a major difference to your medication error lawsuit in Philadelphia. You should be able to trust your lawyer to handle the legal legwork of your case from beginning to end, including filing your claim and negotiating for fair financial compensation – all while you concentrate on healing from your injuries.

It is important to find an attorney who understands how medication processes work in various settings and who knows the right questions to ask in medication error cases. The attorneys at Youman & Caputo have significant experience in these cases – and the results to show for it. If you or someone you know has suffered a medication error in Philadelphia, contact us today at (215) 302-1999 for a free consultation.