Pills may be small and medication may be easy to swallow, but medicine can be powerful. In fact, when taken incorrectly, medication can actually lead to death. This is why it is critical that doctors are diligent to prescribe the correct medication, nurses and anesthesiologists are careful to administer the right drugs, and pharmacists are thorough when filling prescriptions. When one of these medical professionals makes a mistake along the way, it can have serious consequences for patients, including life-altering effects and death.
Types of Medication Errors that Can Lead to Death
- Hospital medication mistakes. Many patients who arrive at a hospital need some type of medication for their injury or adverse health condition. Although most patients are given the correct medication during their hospital stays, some patients aren’t properly monitored and are victims of medical malpractice. For example, a nurse may administer the wrong dose of a drug or get patients mixed up and give someone the wrong medication. Sometimes a patient can be allergic to the medication or the wrong medicine can interact with other medications that the patient is already taking. Anesthesiologists can also be guilty of administering too much or the wrong anesthesia to patients. Even doctors can make critical medication errors when prescribing drugs to patients by writing down the wrong drug name or incorrect dose of medication. When any one of these mistakes occurs, a patient can suffer the adverse health effects—even death. Sadly, some patients fall through the cracks and medications are sometimes overlooked and patients aren’t properly monitored. Even failing to prescribe a medication when a patient should have been prescribed one can be medical malpractice. For example, a patient could have needed an anticoagulation medication but wasn’t prescribed one, resulting in a stroke and death. Even failure to restart anticoagulants after surgery can lead to death.
- Pharmacy medication errors. People of every age pick up prescriptions at their local pharmacies and trust that their medication is correct. Even parents of young children rely on pharmacists to make sure their child’s medication and dosage are accurate. Unfortunately, sometimes critical errors are made behind the pharmacy counter. This is often the result of a hurried environment where pharmacy employees are supposed to meet unrealistic quotas. Generally, pharmacy technicians fill the prescriptions and pharmacists review the prescriptions and provide patients with consultations. Because both pharmacy technicians and pharmacists are often in a hurry, they can be negligent and make critical mistakes, such as providing the wrong medication or the wrong dose of medicine. Other types of errors that occur behind the pharmacy counter include labeling errors, such as providing the wrong directions; mistakes with children’s prescriptions, such as giving a child an adult’s dose of medication; and mixing up patients’ medications due to similar names or same dates of birth. Although pharmacists are supposed to double check everyone’s work, sometimes pharmacists don’t catch these types of mistakes due to similar-sounding drugs or because they are overworked and tired. Sadly, horrible outcomes—even death—occur before medication mistakes are caught. Although some pharmacy errors result in minor side effects, other medication mistakes are life-threatening and can cause people to be hospitalized or even die.
Because medication is powerful, it can cause a lot of harm if an error is made. If you believe the death of your loved one was the result of a medication error, you may have a wrongful death claim due to the medical negligence your loved one endured. It will be in your best interest to speak with an attorney who has experience in handling both medical malpractice cases and wrongful death cases. Our law firm has this experience and would love to help you hold the wrongdoers accountable. Please contact us at (703) 721-4233 for a free consultation today.