Medical Malpractice:

Medication Errors and Adverse Reactions

Most pharmaceutical drugs are highly effective when prescribed correctly. However, if a patient receives the wrong medication or an incorrect dosage, the consequences can be life-threatening.  If a doctor prescribes the wrong medication for a condition or, perhaps more common, the wrong combination of medications, and the patient suffers an adverse reaction, this may be grounds for filing a medical malpractice claim.

Medication errors can occur when a doctor prescribes the incorrect dosage, the pharmacy incorrectly fills the prescription, or if the prescription is written sloppily and misunderstood by another doctor, nurse, or pharmacist. If the patient's medical history has not been reviewed and taken into account, a doctor may prescribe medication that is unsafe for the patient. Other causes of medication errors and adverse patient reactions include:

  • Failure to check for drug allergies
  • Drugs with similar names are confused
  • Drugs are incorrectly labeled

The following parties may be held liable in the event that a patient suffers a serious adverse reaction to a prescribed medication:

  • 1. The doctor who wrote the prescription
  • 2. The hospital where the treatment occurred
  • 3. The pharmacist who filled the prescription

An action against the pharmacy for a breach of standard care may also be possible, though this is not a medical malpractice claim. Furthermore, if the actual cause of the injuries was due to either the making or marketing of the drug (for example, if your weight-loss drug brought about a heart attack or some other serious reaction) then there may be grounds for suing the pharmaceutical company and retailer. Again, outside the realm of medical malpractice, if the drug that caused the injury or serious adverse reaction has since been recalled (either by the drug company itself or at the request of the FDA), then there may be grounds for a product liability action against the drug manufacturer, and you should contact an experienced product liability attorney.