We trust our healthcare providers to prescribe the correct medications just as we trust the pharmaceutical manufacturers to make safe medications. Prescription errors destroy this trust and can lead to long-term consequences, including death. We need healthcare providers who prescribe medications accurately and with care.
What is a Prescription Error?
Devastating prescription errors can occur in a myriad of ways and potentially constitute medical malpractice. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines a medication error as “any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of a healthcare provider, patient, or consumer.”
Examples of Prescription Errors:
- Administering the wrong medication
- Administering the incorrect dosage of a medication
- Mislabeling the medication
- Prescribing a medication the patient is allergic to
- Prescribing a medication that interacts negatively with the patient’s other medications
- Failing to warn the patient about the medication’s common side effects
- Pharmaceutical company fails to disclose known side effects of the medication
Healthcare Providers Who Could Be at Fault
Basically, any healthcare provider who is involved in the prescription, distribution, and administration of prescriptions could be at fault. This includes doctors, nurses, and pharmacists.
However, hospitals, private medical offices, and pharmaceutical manufacturers could also be held liable for prescription errors.
Legal Elements to Prove
Not every prescription complication or medical mistake warrants a lawsuit. Medical malpractice lawsuits are not about healthcare providers making mistakes; the lawsuits are about whether or not the healthcare provider acted negligently. A negligent action is one that a reasonable healthcare provider would not have made under similar circumstances. The plaintiff must prove that the healthcare provider’s negligence was directly responsible for the injury.
Plaintiffs need to prove four elements to have a medical malpractice claim:
- Medical Relationship
- Proof of Negligence
- Proof that Negligence Caused the Injury
- Proof that the Injury Caused Specific Damages
First, the plaintiff must show that they had a medical relationship with the healthcare provider when the prescription error occurred. The medical relationship can be established through patient records or medical bills, and it shows that the healthcare provider owed the patient the medical duty of care.
In order to prove that the duty of care was violated, the plaintiff needs proof of the healthcare provider’s negligence. The standard of care that all medical professionals follow means that a reasonable healthcare provider would have acted the same way under similar circumstances.
The plaintiff must then demonstrate that the healthcare provider’s violation of their duty of care (their negligence) caused an injury. This can be proven through medical records, affidavits, and testimony from the injured patient and their loved ones.
Finally, the plaintiff needs to show that the injury caused specific damages including physical, mental, emotional, and economic damages such as medical bills and lost wages.
Stevens Johnson Syndrome
Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS) is a rare but serious skin condition. People who suffer from SJS experience painful skin blistering throughout the body and the top layer of skin sheds. SJS can be caused by medications. Medications that can cause SJS include anti-epileptic drugs, antipsychotics, and antibiotics. A specific medication that has been linked to SJS is Lamictal – a popular antipsychotic drug. Manufacturers of medications with links to SJS have to provide instructions about the risks, dosing, and titration (how fast the drug builds up in the patient’s body). If the dosing or titration is increased improperly, the risk of SJS increases. If a healthcare provider fails to warn their patients about the risk of SJS or inadequately prescribes or doses a medication with a link to SJS, they put their patients at an increased risk of contracting the potentially fatal skin disorder.
SJS cases are complex, and so you need a legal team that understands the science and how to fight for the justice you deserve. The Medical Malpractice team at GoldenbergLaw has the experience, expertise, and compassion to provide the Gold advocacy for clients suffering injuries from Stevens Johnson Syndrome caused by medication errors.
How GoldenbergLaw Can Help
If you or a loved one was harmed after a prescription error, contact the Medical Malpractice Attorneys at GoldenbergLaw. Medical malpractice lawsuits are long and complex. You need a legal team that is experienced, knowledgeable, and compassionate. Contact us today and we will give you a free consultation.