Medication and prescription errors – medical negligence claims
Normally when you are prescribed medication, it’s be safe for you to take and should do its job without causing you any problems. However, in rare situations, medication prescribed by a doctor, or given while you are in hospital, could have adverse side effects. Depending on how the medication was prescribed for you, you might have grounds for a successful medication medical negligence claim.
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Medication errors – the scale of the problem
In short it’s simply enormous. According to a report in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) in June 2020, it is estimated that a remarkable 237 million or more medication errors are made each and every year in England alone.
And all these are avoidable. And the same research estimates that these mistakes result in around the loss of 1700 lives every year – with the cost to the NHS of more than £98 million.
The only good news is that the report estimates that the vast majority of these errors estimated (72%) are described as “minor”.
But that leaves just under 26% of errors which according to the research ”have the potential to cause moderate harm” and 2% could result in “serious harm.” That may sound a small number – but 2% of total 37 million is a huge 474,000.
And these figures followed earlier research from the Universities of Sheffield, York and Manchester.
They found that what are known as “avoidable adverse drug reactions” (ADR) cause 712 deaths per year in the UK, and could be a contributory factor in far more fatalities – between 1,700 and 22,303 deaths each year.
Medication medical negligence claims – common examples
Amongst the medication errors that might lead to a medical negligence claim, are;
• You are given the incorrect dosage of medication
• You are prescribed a particular drug for too long
• You are given a particular drug even though you are known to be allergic to it
• You are prescribed medications together that should not be taken together
Medication medical negligence claims – common causes
Medication errors could be caused by a number of things, including;
• If your doctor has kept poor notes then they might prescribe you something you’re allergic to by mistake
• Poor communication between medical professionals can also be an issue
• Doctors failing to check your records before giving you a certain drug
• Failure to properly review the medication you are taking can also lead to problems.
Victim of a negligent pharmacy prescription error?
When you go to collect your prescription from the pharmacy, the thought that they may give you the wrong medication is unlikely to cross your mind. After all, the doctor who wrote the prescription was an expert. However, mistakes are made regarding prescriptions every year and the effects of such errors on patients’ health can be devastating. If you believe that you may have been prescribed drugs which has caused an injury or illness you may find that you are entitled to make a pharmaceutical medical negligence compensation claim.
Pharmaceutical negligence could relate to a defective drug, the wrong drug being prescribed or a wrong dosage being recommended. Any of these things could lead to a serious injury for the patient and as such pharmaceutical retailers, doctors and drug manufacturers could all be claimed against for compensation.
Common causes of Pharmacy Errors
Below is a brief list of drugs which have all been the source of medical negligence compensation claims for pharmacy prescription errors in the past:
• Vioxx which was used until 2004 to treat osteo/rheumatoid arthritis
• Imuran which was prescribed to make the body hospitable to foreign organs following a transplant
• The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine which caused so much controversy for its effect on children
• Myodil which as effectively a dye which would show up more clearly on x-rays when injected into the spine.
These are just a few select examples but unfortunately there are many drugs which are negligently prescribed.
Surprising extent of prescription errors revealed
The full extent of the problem was may clear a few years back with some shocking research, which commissioned by the General Medical Council (often known as GMC) of the huge number of errors made when writing prescriptions. In a survey of 1,777 GP patients, an amazing 5% of all prescriptions written by family GPs contained a mistake. Whilst most of these errors have been classified as only mild or moderate, approximately one in every 550 was felt to contain a serious error.
The NHS issues 900 million prescriptions every year in England – so scaling up the survey, implications are that a full 45 million of those would include mistakes – with a frightening 1.8 million of those mistakes considered severe. One in eight of all patients surveyed reported a mistake in a prescription – which rose to a remarkable 40% of those patients who are over 75.
Our medical negligence solicitors do see the real suffering caused by inaccurate prescriptions. Let’s hope that the NHS and GMC continue to take the recommendations in the report seriously – the survey called for improved training for GPs and an increased role for pharmacists in helping GPs prescribe
Your prescription or medication medical negligence claim – contact us today
If you believe you have experienced a medication error due to medical negligence, make sure you get the right legal advice from experienced medical negligence solicitors. Our specialist medical negligence team have that experience.
Whilst it is always important to take legal advice as soon as you are able, you must do so within three years of first finding out about the problem – failing to do so can mean you miss out on your right to claim compensation entirely. However if you were at first unaware of anything being wrong, you still have three years to make a claim from the time you find out that there is a problem.
Being given the wrong medication can be distressing and, in some extreme cases, can even be fatal. Prompt action as soon as you are aware of the problem, though, could make all the difference when it comes to making a successful medication medical negligence claim.
Want to make a Medication Medical Negligence Claim? Contact us today
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