We rely on medical professionals, including doctors and pharmacists, to properly prescribe and dispense medications. However, in the event a person ends up being prescribed the wrong medication, this could lead to significant illnesses or even death. But does prescribing the wrong medication necessarily mean that the medical professional committed malpractice? There are various elements that must be in place in order for a malpractice claim to be viable in these situations.
How Wrong Prescriptions Occur
There are various individuals who can write prescriptions for medications, not just doctors. Other individuals who are allowed to prescribe medications can include surgeons, physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, psychiatrists, dentists, and others. However, there are various things that can happen where an individual could end up receiving the wrong prescription.
Failing to Check Patient History
When a medical professional begins to work with the patient, it is their responsibility to take a patient medical history. Medical professionals need to know the history of the patient in order to make informed decisions about their care, including which prescription medications to give. Taking a patient history could reveal that a patient has a history of allergic reactions or negative experiences with other types of medications.
Not Checking Other Patient Medications
Medical professionals need to check all of the medications that a patient is currently on before prescribing new medications. There are various types of medications that react negatively when combined with other meds. Failing to check other medications could potentially lead to significant long-term harm if a counter-indicated med is prescribed.
Writing the Wrong Dosage
In some cases, medical professionals could prescribe the wrong dosage of the medication, or a pharmacist or pharmacy technician could accidentally type in the wrong dosage. Medications are very specific when it comes to dosages, and a dosage being off by just a little bit could lead to long-term consequences, depending on the medication in question.
Misreading the Prescription
A nurse, pharmacist, pharmacy technician, or other professional could misread the prescription given by another. Again, misreading a prescription could result in a person receiving a completely different medication that has a negative reaction.
Is it Medical Malpractice?
If a person receives the wrong medication, it could potentially lead to a medical malpractice claim. However, there are various elements that need to be in place before a claim is successful. It will need to be shown first that there was a patient-medical professional relationship established. This relationship essentially requires the medical professional to uphold a certain level of care, which we can refer to as their duty of care.
It will then need to be shown that the medical professional breached their duty of care by prescribing the wrong medication. Again, there are various ways that a person can receive the wrong medication, so it will need to be determined if this was a breach of duty of care on the part of a medical professional.
Finally, a person will need to prove that they were harmed in some way as a result of receiving the wrong medication and that this harm led to some sort of monetary loss. This can include medical care that was needed, lost wages, pain and suffering damages, and more.