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Prescription errors can lead to malpractice lawsuits

Mismanagement of patient records can lead to more than just health dangers to the patient; it can also lead to lawsuits. Plaintiffs are more frequently seeking judgments against physicians for a medication error resulting from the doctor's failure to note that a patient was already taking a drug that could be incompatible with the new prescription.

In some cases, suicides have been pursued as wrongful death cases based solely on improper prescription practices. In one instance, a man threw himself down a flight of stairs after taking an antidepressant prescribed by his physician, who did not know that the man was already taking narcotics from his orthopedist. The family sued the doctor, citing negligence. The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount although the physician refused to admit any wrongdoing.

Doctors are seen as negligent in many drug-induced suicides because they effectively place the weapon into the victim's hands. However, doctors may be able to protect themselves from these lawsuits by paying closer attention to the medications a patient is already taking. As most drug overdoses are due to prescription drugs, it is important for doctors to take responsibility for their prescription procedures. It is also important for doctors to confirm medical history rather than simply relying on patient self-reporting.

Victims who have suffered injury due to incorrect prescriptions by a doctor may be able to claim damages against the physician. These victims may seek the assistance of a medical malpractice attorney in evaluating and pursuing a claim for damages against the prescribing doctor.

Source: Amednews, "Physician liability: When an overdose brings a lawsuit," Alicia Gallegos, Mar. 4, 2013

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