Suing when Medication Mistakes Happen in NJ
One of the more common mistakes in the medical field is medication error. Primarily, physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, and pharmacists, are among the network of healthcare professionals who prescribe, dispense, and administer medications to patients. With the importance of appropriate prescriptions for the treatment and management of illness and disease, mistakes can be costly. If anyone in the medicine chain gets it wrong, the patient can be injured, perhaps permanently. Understandably, healthcare facilities are often busy places with fast-moving medical personnel carrying out multiple tasks throughout the day and night. As you might anticipate, mistakes are bound to happen under such circumstances. Given that drug errors may have devastating consequences, healthcare providers must do better to prevent them from happening. And this is entirely possible to achieve with better practices that address the root causes.
Sadly, many patients are not afforded the opportunity to prevent the damaging results of medication mistakes. In fact, many victims are forced to cope with the consequences of medical malpractice for years, if not the remainder of their lives. If this happened to you or a loved one, the seasoned team of New Jersey Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Fronzuto Law Group can help. Our practice is dedicated to assisting individuals who have been injured by medical negligence in many forms, including errors with prescribing and administering medications. To discuss your unique case and find out more about your legal options, contact our firm today at 973-435-4551.
How do Medication Mistakes Happen?
Medication errors occur for many reasons. For example, the interaction of multiple prescription drugs or the interaction of prescription drugs with other over-the-counter drugs, supplements or medications that patients take, can cause death or injury. In fact, allergic or other adverse reactions to medications combined with other medication errors add up to billions of dollars in healthcare expenses, let alone the human suffering caused by pain and sickness from these errors. Tragic as it is, the Institute of Medicine reports that approximately 1 in 131 outpatients and 1 in 854 inpatients die from medication errors. All told, this amounts to between 7,000 and 9,000 fatalities due to faulty practices with medications. These errors may occur at any time, from a doctor’s prescribing medicine to a nurse’s or patient’s administering it. In all, an arising skepticism about medical care is in part due to this far too common—and preventable—medication error problem.
Accidents happen, but medication mistakes that have terrible consequences must not. A patient may be given the wrong medication, for example, because the doctor ordered or prescribed the wrong drugs, healthcare workers administered the medication incorrectly, or providers failed to monitor the patient who was administered medications. Most drugs must be dosed properly to the patient’s weight, health, and medication list, as well as taken according to the manufacturer’s and doctor’s directions. The results of faulty dosing or administering may be a patient’s prolonged or worsening illness, or worse, an adverse reaction to the wrong drugs.
Prescription mistakes also result from poor documenting, transcribing, and dispensing methods. The method of introducing the drug into the patient’s system and the length of time to take the drug are common problems with faulty writing and reading of doctors’ prescriptions. Sometimes, doctors write down the wrong medication on a patient’s prescription. Forgetting to write down important instructions, using unauthorized drugs, giving medication to the improper patient, and not following medication dispensing rules are all significant mistakes leading to preventable patient harm.
How can Faulty Practices with Medications be Reduced?
While not uncommon, many medication errors are preventable through mindful practices. Healthcare workers bustle through busy hospitals, clinics, and offices, often becoming distracted, a major cause of medication errors. Aside from actually seeing patients, doctors address multiple tasks throughout their shifts, from ordering lab work, to consulting with other doctors, approving procedures with insurance companies, and speaking to patient families. All of these responsibilities are interspersed among writing prescriptions. Multitasking and emergencies can lead to carelessness and inattentive ordering of medications for patients. A typical example may be when a nurse asks a doctor, who is on the phone, about a certain prescription. The doctor may be marginally paying attention, at which point an error is more likely to occur.
More hospitals realize that protocols must be in place to minimize the disorder that can lead to disastrous errors. To the extent possible, doctors and their staff need to become more organized and remain attuned to the many responsibilities that come with prescribing authority. Doctors need to write more legibly; order drugs available to them and not substitute one unknown drug for another better known simply because of limited time to translate or find the unknown equivalent; and be impeccable about writing prescriptions with correct drug, dosage, use instructions, and length of use, considering the patient’s age and other health issues. Avoiding abbreviations that can be misconstrued also may serve to lower the incidence of errors, as well as including the diagnosis along with the prescription, allowing pharmacists to verify the match of medication to the problem that it addresses. Finally, fostering better communication with other links in the medical chain, such as nurse practitioners and pharmacists, can help reduce mistakes and promote caution when prescribing medications.
Sometimes, negligence is individual and in other instances it is systemwide. Regardless of the source of the problem, a culture of caution must be adopted when it comes to medications, as the benefits and risks of these drugs weigh equally in determining outcomes for patients.
Doctor or Hospital Made a Mistake with Medication in NJ, What can I do?
Aside from loss of patient trust and professional credibility, medication-related negligence can lead to catastrophic monetary losses. It can also lead to a doctor, nurse, or other practitioner being sued after a person is severely injured by an avoidable error. Sick patients depend on their healthcare team to perform their duties competently. In fact, they are at the mercy of those who they trust to heal them with the right medicines and practices. When that trust is betrayed due to negligence, a carelessness that is inexcusable, the patient deserves to be compensated for their unnecessary injury, including their pain, suffering, and economic losses. Malpractice is a serious breach of a medical provider’s duty to their patient and you may have more legal avenues to pursue compensation than you think. Contact the offices of Fronzuto Law Group to speak with a highly knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney if you have suffered needlessly from a medication error. We provide consultations absolutely free of charge. Simply call 973-435-4551 to learn more.