What To Do if Your Doctor Made a Medication Error May 23, 2024.

What To Do if Your Doctor Made a Medication Error

Prescription drugs help manage certain medical conditions for many, with about 66% of adults in the United States taking them daily. Prescription drugs can manage conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer. However, if a doctor prescribes the wrong medication or dose, their patient may suffer the consequences.

With over 20,000 types of prescription drugs in the United States, mix-ups due to similar bottles or names are common.

Each year, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) receives over 100,000 complaints about medication errors. Many of these errors are non-life threatening, but others have serious consequences. In fact, 7,000-9,000 Americans die each year from these preventable errors.

Common Types of Medication Errors

Common medication errors include:

  1. Incorrect Dosage: In a hospital setting, this error occurs when the patient is administered too much medication based on their age, weight, and gender. It also includes cases where the doctor or pharmacist tells the patient to take the medication more often than they should.

  1. Failure to Recognize Allergies: Administering or prescribing a drug that a patient is allergic to can be dangerous. Medical providers should always be aware of their patient’s known allergies, so they do not prescribe them a medication that they are allergic to.

  1. Incorrect Medication: Administering or prescribing the wrong medication occurs when medical professionals pull the incorrect drug. This can happen because some medications have similar names or similar-looking bottles. Errors like this can occur in pharmacies when the pharmacist fills the prescription and gives it to the wrong person. However, it can also happen in a healthcare facility, when a nurse administers the wrong medication to a patient.

  1. Incorrect Administration Rate: This medication error occurs when a patient is on an IV and the medication is given too quickly or too frequently. In these cases, it can quickly lead to the patient overdosing on the medicine.

  1. Incorrect patient: Patients may receive the wrong medication at a pharmacy if their name is mixed up with someone else's. It can also occur in a hospital setting if a medical provider gives the medication to the wrong patient.

  1. Drug-to-Drug Interactions: Certain drugs can be unsafe if they are taken together, this is referred to as drug-to- drug interactions. Medical providers must be aware of their patient’s current medications to avoid prescribing drugs that would have a dangerous interaction

All of the medication errors listed above can have adverse effects on the patient. Serious consequences can occur such as organ damage, overdose, rashes, skin disfigurement, and even death.

Early Signs of Medication Errors

Signs of medication errors may take days or even weeks to appear. So, it is important to know the early signs of taking the incorrect medication.

Common symptoms and side effects include:

  • Extreme fatigue or drowsiness

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Stomach pain

  • Confusion

  • Unconsciousness

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Memory and concentration issues

  • Dizziness

  • Chest pain

  • Loss of coordination and balance

5 Steps to Take After Your Doctor Made a Medication Error

It is tough to know what to do next if you suspect that your doctor made a medication error. Continue reading to learn the 5 steps to take if you suspect that you were given or prescribed the wrong medication.

Call Your Pharmacy

If you think your doctor prescribed you the wrong medication or your pharmacy filled the wrong prescription, you should immediately call your pharmacy. The pharmacist should be able to confirm the medication’s purpose, and how often it should be taken. If there is a mistake, they may advise you to seek medical attention.

In a hospital setting, you should express your concerns to the nurses or doctors to confirm you are receiving the correct medication and dosage.

Seek Medical Attention

Medication errors can be extremely dangerous. These errors can have long-term effects like birth defects, disability, hospitalizations, and death. So, it is crucial to seek medical attention right away if you are taking the wrong medicine. 

When you arrive at the hospital or urgent care you should provide the medical provider with all relevant information including:

  • The medication name.

  • The dosage you took.

  • Any known allergies.

  • All medications you have taken.

  • Any medical conditions you have.

Prompt medical attention can prevent serious injuries and complications from occurring. Even if you don’t think you are experiencing complications, it is always better to get checked out just in case.

Report the Error

When errors go unreported, they are more likely to happen again to other patients. However, in many cases, medical providers will be more careful in the future if they are held accountable after making an error. You can report the error to the appropriate healthcare facility, whether it’s pharmacy, hospital, urgent care, etc.

You can also report errors to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP). The ISMP is a resource that gives patients a place to report errors, so similar mistakes in the future can be avoided.

Document Injuries and Evidence

Once you’ve determined that your injuries were caused by a medication error, it is important to document evidence. 

Although you might want to throw the medication bottle away, it is important to keep it for the time being. The medication bottle, original packaging, and instructions are all valuable evidence in a medication error lawsuit.

Besides physical evidence, you should write detailed notes about how you feel and your symptoms on a day-to-day basis.

Pictures are also useful to document your injuries, so you should also take photos of physical side effects such as rashes and skin disfigurement. 

If your injuries occurred in the hospital you, or a trusted family member, should document the physical evidence, along with what symptoms you experienced. You should also take note of any statements the medical provider makes if they admit that they made a mistake during your care.

Call an Attorney

If you experienced a medication error, you may be able to receive compensation. So, you should contact a medical malpractice attorney. They will be able to look through your evidence and medical records to see if you have a case.

You should contact an attorney soon after discovering the error because Ohio only has a 1-year statute of limitations for medication malpractice cases. This means that if you wait longer than a year to contact an attorney, they will likely not be able to file your case.

How The Mellino Law Firm Can Help

At The Mellino Law Firm, we have 40 years of experience representing victims of medication errors, who suffered severe injuries as a result.

Contact our Cleveland-based medical malpractice attorneys to learn about your right to financial compensation after medication errors caused you harm.

Call our office at (440 333-3800 or fill out our quick contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.