Medication Error Lawyers in Washington, D.C.
Most patients receive the right dose of the medication which they have been prescribed. Still, even though they can easily be avoided, medication errors continue to occur. Often, they result from the negligence of health care professionals involved in the medication process, whether it be the prescribing physician, the pharmacist who fills the order or an administering nurse or technician. Some medication errors end up being harmless, but many others cause serious and life-threatening injuries.
If you or a loved one have suffered injury or illness due to a medication error caused by suspected medical negligence, contact the Washington, D.C., medical malpractice attorneys of The Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. We can bring to your case our unique blend of knowledge and experience in both the medical and legal fields. Our initial consultations are always free.
What Are Different Types of Medication Errors?
Medication errors happen all too frequently in the District of Columbia, Virginia, Maryland and throughout the country. According to researchers:
- An error occurs in 1.7 percent of the prescriptions dispensed in the U.S. each year.
- If you consider that three billion drugs are annually prescribed in the U.S., that percentage comes out to roughly 50 billion medication errors.
Any kind of medication error can cause a patient to suffer serious harm. Some types of errors are more common than others. They include:
- Wrong medication – In some cases, doctors and hospitals may fail to follow proper patient identification procedures and give a patient medication intended for another patient. They can also give a patient a different medication than the one intended.
- Incorrect dosage – Sometimes, patients receive an improper dosage of medication. If the dosage is too low, it will fail to treat the patient’s condition. If it is an excessively high dosage, it will potentially expose the patient to complications.
- Missed dosage – This type of error commonly occurs in nursing homes and other types of long-term care facilities. Residents commonly suffer from conditions that prevent them from knowing when they should receive their medication. So, to ensure a patient stays on schedule, it is up to staff members to be responsible.
- Mixing medication – Doctors sometimes fail to consider that the medication they prescribe may have an adverse effect when it is mixed with another medication which the patient is taking. In some cases, doctors prescribe a medication that neutralizes the effect of that medication or which neutralizes its own effect.
- Failure to examine patient’s medical history – Doctors can also fail to examine a patient’s medical history. As a result, they may fail to see that a patient has an allergy to a particular medication or that the medication is otherwise contraindicated.
- Sudden stop or change in medication – A patient may suffer serious harm if the patient suddenly changes medication or stops using it entirely. For example, patients who take blood-thinning medication must follow a strict regimen, or else they could face life-threatening complications.
Because our Washington, D.C. medical malpractice attorneys are also doctors, we understand how the medication process works. We know what should happen when every medical professional involved in that process does his or her job right. We also know what can happen when they do their jobs wrong. We will use our knowledge and experience to guide our investigation and assessment of your case.
Why Do Medication Errors Happen?
While computer systems and software are designed to decrease and even eliminate some forms of medication errors, it is an unfortunate fact that medication errors still occur. The National Institutes of Health identifies five stages of the medication process. An error can occur at any one of these stages:
- Ordering or prescribing – At this stage, an error can occur that initiates a series of errors and ultimately leads to a patient receiving improper medication. Simply put, a doctor may prescribe the wrong type of medication.
- Transcribing and verifying – Error can occur when transcribing a prescription order. A doctor’s illegible writing or spelling error may contribute to the problem. A nurse or other staff member should verify the medication which they receive for a patient by checking it against the prescription. Neglecting to check can lead to serious harm.
- Dispensing and delivering – The pharmacist may simply fill an order with the wrong type of medication, or the pharmacist may mix up orders. As a result, a patient may receive the wrong type of medication.
- Administering – At this stage, errors can occur because nurses or staff members fail to give the right type or dose of medication to a patient, or they fail to give the medication according to a schedule.
- Monitoring and reporting – Doctors and hospital staff should check on a patient’s reactions to medication. They should promptly report signs of progress as well as signs of a patient’s negative reaction to the medication.
Inadequate staffing and increases in workload contribute to medication errors. They may cause exhausted and hurried doctors and nurses to fail to verify the original prescription against the medication they are about to administer. In some cases, doctors who are fatigued and/or in a rush may fail to check a patient’s history, or they may fail to pass on important information during a patient handoff.
In some cases, the specific negligent medical professionals may be liable for a medication error. A hospital may also be liable for its own negligence. For example, the hospital may lack certain medical protocols, or it may fail to enforce existing protocol. The hospital may also have been negligent in the hiring, training and supervision of its medical staff.
What Are the Consequences of Medication Errors?
When properly prescribed and administered, doctors can use medication to effectively treat a wide variety of illnesses, from cancer to the common cold. However, when errors occur, medication can cause harsh side effects. The consequences of medication errors include:
- Allergic reactions to an erroneously prescribed or erroneously administered medication
- Overdosing, which can place stress on internal organs such as the heart, lungs, brain, kidneys and liver
- Worsening of condition because the patient was given the wrong medication or an insufficient dose of the correct medication
- Adverse reactions from a negligent combination and interaction of two or more medications.
Side effects and consequences of medication errors can result in severe and often fatal injuries to patients. Many patients must get treatment for their initial medical condition and additional treatment for the side effects and complications brought on by the medication error. This treatment can quickly become costly and overwhelming.
How Do You Prove a Medication Error?
The District of Columbia requires medication prescriptions to include certain information, including the name and contact information of the prescribing practitioner and information about the medication itself, including the name of the drug, the strength and quantity prescribed and directions for use. The statute also requires that any oral prescription be immediately reduced to writing.
In many medication error cases, the written prescription serves as a key piece of evidence. A patient’s medical records must also be collected and analyzed. Interviews with the different medical professionals involved in the medication process – from the prescribing doctor to the administering nurse – should be done as well. This information can explain how and why the medication error happened. It can also reveal the harmful impact of the error on the patient’s health and enjoyment of life.
If the evidence in your case establishes that a medical professional failed to meet the relevant standard of care, and that failure caused you or a loved one to suffer injury or illness, then you may be eligible to recover full and fair compensation for the undue physical, emotional and financial harm which you have suffered.
How Can a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Help You?
If you have suffered due to a medication error caused by your health care providers, a medical malpractice lawyer can help you to pursue compensation for your injuries and expenses. For instance, at The Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson M.D., J.D., we know how to thoroughly investigate cases, identify medication errors and prepare claims. We also have experience in negotiating with hospitals, defense law firms and insurance companies in order to resolve medical malpractice claims. Ultimately, we know how to present strong cases at trial.
The services which a lawyer provides can help you to focus on your health. Knowing that someone is in your corner, aggressively pursuing just compensation for you, should help to alleviate a great deal of stress. As you move forward, a lawyer’s services can simply make a meaningful difference for you, your family and your future.
Get Help from a Washington, D.C., Medication Error Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one have been the victim of a medication error in Washington, D.C., contact the medication error lawyers of The Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson M.D., J.D. today for a consultation about your case. Our attorneys will advise you of your legal options and explain how we can help you to seek the justice and compensation you deserve.
Our team focuses solely on medical malpractice cases. Our principal attorney, Michael Wilson, is both a lawyer and a doctor, which makes him uniquely experienced and qualified to help clients who have suffered from medication errors. We have used our experience to secure more than $100 million in compensation for our clients.
We understand the financial difficulties that injuries from a medication error can pose. As a result, we will not charge you anything unless we can recover compensation for you. Dr. Wilson is also personally available to speak with clients whenever needed. Each client receives his direct number. Contact us today for a free review of your case and learn more about how we can help you.