Maryland Medication Error + Wrong Prescription Lawyer
When we are in pain or have a chronic illness, we rely on our doctors and medical professionals to prescribe medication that will alleviate our suffering.
Physicians and pharmacists are required to take reasonable precautions to ensure that prescription medication is not only helpful but also safe. While many safety provisions are in place, mistakes still occur, with doctors prescribing the wrong medication or pharmacists incorrectly filling prescriptions.
If you suffered serious medical consequences because you were prescribed the wrong medication, our experienced Maryland medication error and wrong prescription attorneys can help determine if you were the victim of medical malpractice. Call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (443) 339-8368 today to schedule a free consultation.
What is Prescription Medication Malpractice?
Prescription medication malpractice can come in many different forms. Most result from prescription errors, errors in dispensing medications, and mistakes made while administering medications. However, there are other causes for prescription medication malpractice that are less common but could still be sufficient to hold a medical professional liable.
Hospitals and pharmacists are supposed to have thorough organizational systems so that errors in prescribing, administering, and dispensing medications are limited and caught before any damage can be done. When they do not, serious injuries can befall a patient that has placed their trust in them. Our Maryland medical malpractice attorneys can help you recover compensation for your damages regardless of the prescription error that injured you.
Wrong Medication Given
Arguably one of the most common prescription medication errors medical professionals make is simply giving the patient the wrong medication. This typically occurs when the hospital or pharmacy accidentally refills the patient’s prescription with the wrong medication. This also happens if the wrong dosage is given, which might cause a patient to overdose or not get the intended treatment, depending on which way the dosage error was made. This is common with antibiotics, which are one of the most commonly prescribed medications on the market.
Dangerous Prescription Medication Combinations
Many prescription medication malpractice cases are caused when a medical professional prescribes a combination of medications that are harmful when taken together. While most hospitals and pharmacies have computer systems intended to catch a dangerous medication mixture, human error can still creep in. In some cases, the medications prescribed might have been completely safe if given separately but could be deadly when taken together.
Errors Reading Handwriting
An avoidable cause of medication malpractice that still occurs far too often is errors made from poor handwriting. It is hard to believe that mistakes from illegible handwriting can still be a problem in our current age. Unfortunately, many doctors still handwrite prescriptions, which might be difficult for a pharmacist to discern. If the pharmacist fails to confirm the prescription, catastrophic injuries can result when the wrong medication is taken.
Confusing Medication Names
Considering how many medications are on the market with peculiar yet similar names, it is not surprising that mix-ups happen. However, this is never an excuse for negligence by a medical professional. It is their duty to ensure that the right medications are being administered, and they should be held accountable when their carelessness causes the wrong medication to be taken. Our medical malpractice attorneys can investigate your case to determine the root cause of your injuries.
Injuries Due to Wrong Prescriptions or Medication
We trust our physicians and pharmacists when it comes to the medications prescribed for our benefit. We usually believe that our doctor accurately diagnosed our condition and prescribed the best possible medication to help us. We also put our faith in pharmacists to fill prescriptions correctly and advise us of any potentially dangerous side-effects or drug interactions. We trust that the medication we take will ultimately help us.
Prescribing the wrong medication can result in serious harm or even death. Not only will the wrong medication fail to ease the symptoms, but it may also worsen current conditions. Additionally, the wrong medication can dangerously interact with other medication currently being taken, or the medication can cause a severe allergic reaction. In some circumstances, a doctor or pharmacist could have instructed a patient to take the wrong dose of a medication, leading to an overdose. Taking the wrong medication or accidentally overdosing can result in brain damage, coma, deterioration of internal organs, or even death.
Common Causes of Medication or Prescription Errors in Maryland
Potential errors related to medication mistakes can occur anywhere from the manufacturing of the medication to its ingestion. Human error or negligence could adversely affect the medication anywhere along the chain. For example, dangerously designed medication or improper instructions on how to ingest it could trigger serious medical consequences. Likewise, negligence by a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist can result in catastrophic medication errors. A medical malpractice claim can stem from poor communication, carelessness, ineffective safety procedures, system errors, exhaustion, or understaffing. A Maryland medication error attorney can determine who is liable and help you file a lawsuit in either of these types of situations:
Doctor Negligence in Prescribing the Wrong Medication
A doctor might prescribe the wrong medication for several reasons. Errors do not always lead to serious harm, and a simple mistake might not give rise to a medical malpractice claim. However, if the doctor acted negligently, they could be liable for any adverse medical effects or injuries they caused.
If a doctor fails to properly review a patient’s medical history, they may unknowingly prescribe medication that negatively reacts with medication that the patient is currently taking. Similarly, a doctor may miss an existing condition or allergy that is aggravated by the new medication.
Communication is vital in making a correct diagnosis and providing treatment. A doctor can be negligent simply by poorly communicating with the patient. For instance, failing to give clear instructions can result in a patient taking the incorrect dosage or taking the medication at mistaken intervals. While it is a common joke that doctors have poor handwriting, an illegible prescription can easily result in a pharmacist dispensing the wrong medication and could constitute medical malpractice on the doctor’s part.
Pharmacist Negligence in Filling a Prescription Incorrectly
In Maryland, a pharmacist does not have a duty to warn a patient of potentially dangerous side-effects or to safeguard a patient from taking medications that would adversely affect each other. However, this lack of duty does not always free a pharmacist from liability when incorrectly filling a prescription. A pharmacy must have safety protocols in place to ensure that medication is stored and dispensed properly. Furthermore, a pharmacist must fill prescriptions accurately. If there is a question regarding any prescription, the pharmacist should contact the prescribing physician rather than guess. Negligent conduct by a pharmacist or pharmacy that results in the wrong medication being dispensed can usually give rise to a lawsuit.
Medical Malpractice for Medication Errors and Wrong Prescriptions
If a patient suffers adverse medical effects or serious harm from a medication error or an inaccurately filled prescription, they may have a legitimate medical malpractice claim. However, not every medical mistake rises to the level of medical malpractice. In Maryland, to be successful in a medical malpractice claim, four elements must be proven:
Standard of Care
Medical professionals have a duty to provide the same care to their patients that a similarly qualified, knowledgeable professional would provide under comparable circumstances. This duty exists for all healthcare providers, though the standards change based on their particular profession. Therefore, a doctor has a different standard of care than a pharmacist would.
Breaching the Standard of Care
A simple mistake may not be medical malpractice. However, if medical professionals deviate from the standard of care in prescribing medication, dispensing medication, or giving instructions, they may be liable for any resulting injury or harm. For example, a doctor who fails to ask about a patient’s medical history, other prescription medications they are currently taking, or possible allergies may have negligently deviated from the proper level of care that should have been provided.
The negligent conduct must be the direct cause of the patient’s injury. Mistakenly prescribing the wrong medication or filling a prescription incorrectly is not necessarily malpractice if it did not actually cause any harm. Our Maryland medication error attorney can help determine if a serious medical consequence was directly caused by taking the wrong medication.
The injury must result in actual economic or noneconomic damages. Economic damages include things like additional medical care costs, hospital expenses, lost wages, and funeral expenses, while noneconomic damages include things like long-term physical or emotional distress and pain and suffering.
How Can I Prove Prescription Medication Malpractice?
Medication malpractice can occur at any point during treatment and by any of the medical professionals charged with overseeing the patient’s prescriptions, including the prescribing doctor, nurses giving the medication, or the pharmacist responsible for filling the prescription. Thus, gathering evidence to prove a prescription medication malpractice case can be extremely challenging. However, our medical malpractice attorneys can use their years of experience to help you obtain evidence to show how your medication errors caused your injuries.
The first evidence our team will look at is your medical records. This can help show when the medication was decided upon, the dosages, and the reasons for the prescriptions. If an error was made at some point during treatment, your medical records could indicate where.
The prescription note might also provide evidence as to how a mistake was made. In some cases, the prescription bottle itself might provide the critical evidence needed to turn your case in your favor. While these records can be difficult to obtain, our medical malpractice attorneys can help gather the needed records while you focus on healing.
Compensation in Maryland for Prescription Medication Malpractice
If you suffered injuries because of medication malpractice, you are likely entitled to a wide range of damages, including economic and non-economic losses you have sustained. Your economic damages are the most commonly understood type of compensation victims pursue. This includes medical expenses associated with your current injuries, lost income from missed time at work, and any other out-of-pocket expenses you incurred.
However, many malpractice victims experience physical pain and emotional suffering because of their injuries. Pain and suffering damages are also known as non-economic damages since they compensate you for the subjective impact of your injuries rather than their financial ones. Unfortunately, pain and suffering damages are capped in Maryland medical malpractice cases under Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. Art. § 3-2A-09. As of January 1, 2023, the cap on medical malpractice cases for non-economic damages is set at $875,000. However, the cap increases on the first of each year. Our medical malpractice attorneys can help assess your damages so that you recover every dollar the malpractice costs you.
When Should I Consult a Medication Malpractice Attorney in Maryland?
It is critical to speak with our malpractice attorneys as soon as possible to ensure your case has the best chance of success. Obtaining evidence and filing the appropriate documents takes time and can be jeopardized if you wait too long to get your claim started. Our team can manage every aspect of your case, including investigating the facility and healthcare professionals that treated you.
We can also arrange for a medical expert to provide a statement that you were the victim of prescription medication malpractice. This is required under Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. Art. § 3-2A-04(b)(1) and must be filed within 90 days of filing your lawsuit. The court will dismiss the case without prejudice if this statement is not filed by the 90-day deadline. Fortunately, this means your case can be refiled, and you will have another opportunity to provide a medical expert statement.
We can also help you decide if you want your case to go through the arbitration process. Maryland requires medical malpractice cases to undergo an arbitration process before a trial is scheduled. Arbitration is not a trial but a negotiation to resolve the case before trial, facilitated by an arbitrary third party. However, you can waive arbitration if you provide a statement from a medical expert like the one described above. Our medical malpractice attorneys can help manage the stresses of your legal and ensure all requirements are met.
Call a Maryland Medication Error and Wrong Prescription Lawyer Today for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one has suffered adverse medical effects or serious medical injuries from taking the wrong medication, call the Maryland medical malpractice attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras. Call (443) 339-8368 today to schedule a free consultation.