People in hospitals and long-term care facilities rely on licensed medical professionals for their daily care. Nurses and other healthcare workers monitor their condition and administer treatment, including medications.
Many people assume that their chances of a full recovery are better while receiving care at a licensed facility. Patients tend to believe that healthcare professionals will be very cautious and exact when administering medication, for example, and worry that they might make mistakes if they had to manage their medication without support.
However, setting up intravenous (IV) bags and handing out pills is just part of the daily grind for those working in a medical environment. Distraction, fatigue and a host of other issues might lead to mistakes when administering medication. These errors by medical professionals can cause any of the three serious complications discussed below.
If a healthcare provider gives someone the wrong medication, that could have dire consequences for the patient. They might already have another medication in their bloodstream that interacts with the drug given to them by mistake. Drug interactions can negate the impact of one drug or increase the effects of a drug through a synergistic interaction. A drug interaction can have major medical consequences for the patient.
Timing errors are one of the most common forms of medication mistake that occur, especially with IV medications. Particularly when someone needs to receive strong medications, like opioid pain relievers, receiving too much too quickly can cause an adverse medical reaction. An overdose could lead to prolonged unconsciousness or even death in severe cases.
Disruptions to treatment
Receiving the wrong drug or the wrong dose could mean that someone’s treatment is not as effective as it might otherwise be. Additionally, situations in which healthcare providers fail to administer a dose of medication could also undermine the success of treatment. Drug regimens including chemotherapy and antibiotic treatments require regular doses of drugs to have optimal success rates. A medication error can mean that someone’s treatment is not successful or that it has less beneficial impact that it otherwise might.
Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit would be a reasonable response to a scenario in which someone has a poor medical outcome because of a negligent medication error made by a professional overseeing someone’s treatment. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to get started.