Medication errors that occur during surgery are extremely common and can have serious or even fatal consequences. Medication mistakes can occur when drugs are prescribed, dispensed, or administered. Medication errors cause harm to hundreds of thousands of people every year in the United States, but they are preventable. Several prescription medicine errors including those that occur during surgery are caused by medical negligence.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to prescription medicine errors before, during, or after surgery, you may be able to seek compensation for your damages and losses from several parties including the doctor, medical team, hospital, pharmacy, and potentially others. An experienced Morgantown personal injury lawyer will be able to fight for your rights and hold the negligent parties accountable for your losses.
How Prevalent Are Prescription Medicine Errors?
A recent study by Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston discovered that medication errors or adverse drug events had occurred during half of surgeries over just seven months (in 2013-2014). The study specifically looked at patient care from pre-op through the completion of surgery, which is when a patient is transferred to either a recovery room or intensive care.
Here are some of the most common prescription drug errors that occur during surgery:
Drug labeling errors: Labeling serves a very important purpose, especially on bottles and containers of medications. The information on the label typically describes the product, indicates the proper dosage to administer, how often the drug is to be taken, and any interactions the medicine might have with drugs or foods that could harm the patient. Mislabeling can cause irreversible health effects or even death.
Mislabeling often involves improper directions on how to use the medicine, misidentifying the drug, insufficient warnings, or dosage errors. The patient can end up suffering serious consequences if the pharmacist for example places the drug in the wrong container or puts the wrong label on a drug.
Mislabeling of a prescription drug could also lead to overdosing where the patient takes too much of the medication resulting in harm, injury, or even death. On the other hand, when a patient takes too little of the medication (under-dosing), that could prove harmful as well. When dosage strengths are extremely high, the outcome can become fatal. Toxicity caused by high drug dosage can cause serious damage such as kidney, liver, or heart failure resulting in death.
Wrong drug dosage: When a prescription medication is improperly administered, the results can be catastrophic. Because of this fact, medical providers have very little room for error when it comes to prescription drugs. Even a simple mistake can have deadly consequences. Doctors are responsible for accurately prescribing medications and pharmacists are responsible for ensuring that they accurately dispense these drugs. In many cases, a dosage error is the result of a prescription mistake, sometimes, when the pharmacist misinterprets a doctor’s handwriting or a child is given an adult dose of medication or anesthesia.
Other times, a clerical or numerical error could cause drugs to be dispensed at too high a strength or with inaccurate dosing instructions. Dosing errors can also occur during surgery primarily due to a lack of communication between the surgical team members or due to sheer carelessness or negligence. Pharmacists may also be using inaccurately calibrated scales, which could lead to dosing errors.
Mistakes in documentation: These errors also occur because hospitals, doctors, or other medical professionals are not diligent about maintaining accurate patient records. Some of this documentation may be missing the patient’s allergy information or a record of other drugs the patient is taking. When a medical professional does not have this information, he or she may end up prescribing a drug to which the patient may have a severe reaction, or giving the patient a drug, which might interact with other medications he or she is taking. These types of errors can have serious or even fatal consequences.
Wrongful diagnosis: Patients may also receive the wrong drug because of misdiagnosis by a medical professional. If this occurs during surgery, the consequences can be devastating. When patients don’t receive the correct drugs, they may take longer to recover. Sometimes, when their condition is serious, they may even die as a result of the prescription medicine error.
What is the Value of Your Malpractice Claim?
If you or a loved one has been harmed as the result of a prescription medicine error during surgery, you may be able to seek compensation for the injuries, damages, and losses you have sustained. The value or worth of your claim will likely depend on several factors. Generally speaking, the greater your injury or damage, the more compensation you may be able to seek. Here are some of the damages you may be able to seek and obtain when a prescription drug error causes you injury or harm during surgery:
Medical expenses: This includes all past and future expenses relating to your injury as a result of the prescription error. You may be able to seek compensation for hospitalization as well as the cost of additional treatments caused by the error.
Lost wages: This includes wages lost as a result of the injury suffered. In some cases where injuries are catastrophic and result in long-term disability, future wages lost may also be claimed.
Permanent injuries: If you have suffered permanent injuries or catastrophic injuries such as kidney or liver damage as a result of the prescription error, you may be able to seek compensation for permanent injuries or disabilities you have sustained as a result of the prescription error.
Pain and suffering: You may also seek compensation for past and future pain and suffering caused by such negligence. Not only do patients suffer physical pain and discomfort due to prescription errors, but also emotional distress and psychological damage.
Contact an Experienced Lawyer
The experienced Morgantown medical malpractice attorneys at the Robinette Legal Group PLLC will fight every step of the way to help ensure that you receive maximum compensation for your injuries, damages, and losses. If you have suffered the consequences of prescription medicine errors during surgery at area hospitals such as Ruby Memorial Hospital, Monongalia General (Mon General) Hospital, Mon Health Systems WVU University Health Associates, or private clinics in West Virginia, please call us to find out how we can help. Contact us at 304-594-1800 for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.