Modern medicine has created treatments for a host of conditions that people used to have to simply suffer from or die after they contracted. Everything from severe infections to cancers can respond with the right treatments. The availability of new and effective drugs can both improve people’s quality of life and extend their life expectancy. In some cases, it can help cure them or make them ready to undergo a procedure, like an organ transplant, that can save their life.
Unfortunately, the prolific use of prescription medications in medical facilities also creates the potential for medication errors. These can cause serious consequences for patients, and, in most cases, are preventable.
Sometimes, patients receive the wrong medication
Working in a medical facility is not an easy job. You need to balance the demands of dozens of patients at any given time. Each patient has his or her own medical history, allergies and needs. Nurses, aides and physicians assistants need to quickly and accurately dispense medications to a number of people. Mixing up medications among patients can happen, and it can have major consequences for the patients.
The first concern is the potential for an allergic reaction. When a patient receives a drug that he or she should not, it is possible for their body to have an aggressive, negative reaction to that medication. Even if there is no allergic reaction, receiving the wrong drug could impact other medications that the patient is taking.
Some drugs have a synergistic effect. That means they increase one another’s effects on the body. Other medications may block one another from working properly. You don’t need to be a doctor to understand how either of these scenarios could have catastrophic medical outcomes for someone who is already medically vulnerable.
It’s also possible to have a severe medical reaction to receiving too much of the right medication. People can overdose on many prescription medications, often with serious results.
Sometimes patients don’t receive medication that they need
The other potential risk for having professionals administer medication is oversight. An overwhelmed staff member could easily forget to give a second or third dose of a medication to a patient. Some drugs require multiple doses to achieve the desired effect. Other drugs require a continual stream of the compound in the body to work. Missing a few doses could be the difference between successfully treating a condition and leaving a patient in a vulnerable position.
Patients who experience medication errors may have a host of problems as a result. They may need to delay necessary medical procedures in some cases. Other times, they may need to address symptoms of a reaction to the medication. Regardless of the patient outcome, if there are costs to the patient or a provable medical impact, it may be a case of medical malpractice.
Victims of medication errors should not have to pay. It is perfectly reasonable to seek compensation with a medical malpractice insurance claim or through a lawsuit against the doctor or hospital responsible for the mistake.