He Took the Wrong Medication August 29, 2009.

More than 1.3 million people take the wrong medication every year and close to 100,000 of those die.

While you may not have experienced a pharmaceutical error where you got the wrong drug, or the right drug but you reacted badly to it, or a new medication when combined with what you were already taking caused a serious side effect, errors like this happen every day. Some of these errors are not critical. On the other hand, some of them may be deadly.

Not many people realize this, but medication errors are considered to be medical malpractice, largely because they have the potential to cause extremely serious injuries or death. Incidents like this can cost up to $72 billion every year – a staggering amount of money wasted on preventable pharmacy errors. Ask a Cleveland malpractice lawyer about the kinds of cases he deals with and you might be surprised at the answer.

A pharmacy error happens when a patient is handed the wrong medicine or given the incorrect dose of their prescribed medication. Other areas where mistakes happen are when the doctor writes out an illegible prescription, when the medication isn’t labeled correctly or when medicines that shouldn’t be mixed are taken together. Mistakes like this are quite easy to make if the pills are the same color, size or shape; if the names are similar or if the abbreviations on the prescriptions for the number of times or quantity to take them are wrong. If you think something like this has happened to you, contact a Cleveland medical malpractice lawyer.

Let’s say a prescription required a certain number of units of the medicine to be given every four hours and the "U" looked like an O. Obviously this would affect how much medication the patient was given and perhaps have the potential to cause an inadvertent overdose. All it takes is one small oversight in handing out meds and the consequences could be a Cleveland medical malpractice lawsuit.

There are ways to reduce the likelihood of this happening and people need to be more alert and aware of everything they are ingesting. This becomes more of a problem with seniors who may not understand what they are taking and why, and place an enormous amount of trust in their caregivers.

The first place to start to prevent any pharmacy errors is to check and re-check the medication with your physician after you have a prescription filled. While it may seem like you’re a being nuisance, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Asking questions that may avert a potential drug reaction is far better than having to find a Cleveland medical malpractice lawyer to right a wrong.

If you can’t read the handwriting, chances are the pharmacist will have trouble making it out as well. Ask to have it re-written or clarified before heading to the drugstore. Even though you know what dose the doctor suggested and how many times to take it, write that down on another piece of paper to check it against what you get from the pharmacist. Don’t take anything you are handed until you check it against the information you have.

Just because you may get medications and are told to use them according to the directions on the package, doesn’t mean something can’t go wrong. If you have a bad reaction, then something is obviously amiss. If you feel you have been the victim of pharmacy error, contact a Cleveland medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your case.