Stats show medication errors cause more death and injury than the workplace. With over 6,000 available prescriptions to consumers in Brooklyn, New York, mistakes are sometimes inevitable. However, medication errors that causes patient harm can count as medical malpractice, depending on circumstances.
Causes of medication errors
Medication errors may occur anywhere along the chain, from the prescribing of the drug to dispensing at pharmacies. Reports show the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reviews over 100,000 cases involving concerns over medication errors.
A common cause of medication error is miscommunication, including written and oral, between the doctor, patient and staff. Miscommunication often occurs when a patient gets transferred from one setting to another, which may cause information to be lost. Some medications use similar abbreviations and have similar names, and sometimes, the medicine may have the wrong label.
The Journal of Infusion Nursing published a study that revealed nurses are behind the majority of fatal medical errors. Stats show nurses get interrupted at least seven times an hour, which raises the risk of errors along with multitasking. The lack of knowledge is often behind medication errors, such as not knowing new patient allergies.
When errors become medical malpractice
To bring a medical malpractice case against a health care professional, the plaintiff must establish certain factors. The patient must have a relationship with the doctor who agreed to treat them, which gave them duty of care. For example, if a doctor fails to warn patients about drug interactions, the patient may have a malpractice case.
The healthcare professional must breach the standard of care that another doctor in the same circumstance would follow. The error must be the direct result of negligence and cause the patient harm, lost wages, extra medical bills, or emotional distress.
While health care professionals owe patients a duty of care, patients should stay on top of their health. Patients who neglect their health don’t likely have a case. If negligence does occur, sometimes, settlements are reached out of court.