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I think I was given the wrong prescription drug. Can I sue the doctor who prescribed the medication, or whoever is liable?
If you think that your doctor or another health care provider made a mistake in prescribing or administering medication, you may be able to bring a valid lawsuit for any resulting harm. But just because a mistake might have been made, that doesn’t mean you have a valid medical malpractice case, and you may not be able to tell at the outset exactly what (if anything) went wrong.
There is no question that mistakes made by health care professionals end up causing harm, and those mistakes can and should lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit where the injured patient gets compensated for all losses stemming from the error. But in other situations, some patients are of the mindset that “Somebody might have made a mistake, so somebody definitely has to pay.” Not necessarily.
The practice of medicine is an imperfect one, and there are anticipated risks and complications at every turn. Having said that, a clear mistake made somewhere along the prescription chain is unacceptable, from both a medical and a legal perspective. So, what kinds of prescription-related mistakes might lead to a viable medical malpractice lawsuit? Here are a few examples:
A physician orders a prescription for a patient, while failing to anticipate dangerous side effects or harmful interactions when the patient is taking multiple medications at once. (Learn more about prescription drug errors.)
A pharmacist, hospital employee, or other care provider makes a mistake in filling the prescription (the wrong medication, wrong dosage, or wrong amount is filled).
A physician, nurse, or other care provider makes a mistake in preparing or administering the drug (the wrong medication, wrong dosage, or wrong amount is given to the patient).
In any of these situations, when the error ends up causing actual harm to a patient, a medical malpractice lawsuit might be warranted. The key in these kinds of cases will be figuring out exactly what the health care professional did (or failed to do) and measuring that conduct against the medical standard of care that was appropriate under the circumstances.
by: David Goguen, J.D.
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