New Jersey Medication Error Attorneys
Representing Victims of Prescription Errors in Essex County and throughout New Jersey
Medication errors occur with astounding frequency in the United States. In fact, according to recent data from the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, adverse drug events (ADE’s) are the cause of nearly 700,000 emergency room visits and 100,000 hospitalizations each year. They are also among the most common forms of hospital negligence in the United States, occurring in approximately 5 percent of all hospitalized patients.
An adverse drug event refers to an instance during which a patient suffers negative health consequences as a result of exposure to a medication. Estimates suggest that approximately 50 percent of all adverse drug events are preventable, resulting from medication errors that may occur at any point during the process of selecting, prescribing and dispensing medications.
If you or a loved one has suffered harm as a result of a medication error in New Jersey, you may have grounds to seek compensation for damages, including medical expenses, rehabilitative care, loss of income, and pain and suffering. These cases can be extraordinarily complex, requiring medical and legal experts who regularly investigate, prepare, and vigorously pursue these claims. At Fronzuto Law Group, our medical malpractice attorneys have a combined 75 years experience protecting and aggressively advocating for injured victims. Receive your free initial consultation by contacting our medication error lawyers today at 973-435-4551 (toll free at 888-409-0816). You may also contact our law firm online.
Liable Parties for Medication Errors
From the moment you consult your doctor about a health concern, he or she is responsible for determining the necessity for medication, the appropriate medication to prescribe, the correct dosage of that medication, the period during which you should take the medication, and how you should be monitored during this time.
In addition to your physician’s role as it relates to medication, a nurse may be responsible for administering the medication, and a pharmacist may be responsible for filling and providing the prescription. Throughout this process, there is the potential for many medication errors to occur, from administration of the wrong drug, to prescribing the wrong dosage, to adverse interactions with other drugs, allergic reactions, and many others. While many medications are prescribed by doctors and then administered at home by the patient, some medications are administered at the hospital by a nurse or medical technician. This is especially likely to be the case shortly after a patient has undergone surgery. When the nurse, medical technician, or other hospital employee makes a mistake and administers the incorrect medication, the damage to the patient can be catastrophic.
Regardless of the circumstances of your case, our legal professionals conduct a thorough review in order to determine how the error occurred, who was responsible, and who had the opportunity to prevent it. We consult with relevant experts to accurately assess the extent of the harm that you suffered as a result of the error, construct a compelling argument in your favor, and diligently pursue maximum compensation.
Common Types of Medication Errors
Some of the most frequent medication errors involve:
- Selecting the wrong medication
- Prescribing an incorrect dosage of the medication
- Failing to provide directions for taking the medication
- Providing incorrect directions for taking the medication
- Prescribing a drug to which a patient is allergic
- Prescribing a drug that adversely interacts with another medication that the patient is currently taking
- Failing to warn the patient about potential side effects
- Excessive prescription duration
- Administering the wrong medication or the wrong dosage
- Administering medications using incorrect techniques
- Failing to provide the patient with the medication as prescribed
Duty of Care and Negligence with Medications
Doctors are expected to conduct a thorough examination of the patient and identify the specific health issue before selecting and prescribing a medication to the patient. When the doctor prescribes the wrong medication, the patient can suffer severe injury or illness. Further, medical professionals must evaluate the patient’s health, including their medical and surgical history to ensure that no mistakes are made when prescribing a medication to the patient. If the patient is allergic to a particular drug, taking this medication can lead to an adverse drug reaction that severely damages their health. Additionally, if the patient is already taking another medication when a new medication is prescribed, it is the doctor’s responsibility to be aware of this and to understand the relationship of the drugs so that the patient’s health is not put in jeopardy by an avoidable drug interaction.
A related error occurs when the doctor fails to change the drug as needed, whether it’s due to a poor reaction by the patient’s body or a change in the patient’s health after the drug was prescribed. Patient overdoses are one of the most serious medication errors because doctors may not realize that the patient is overdosing until it is too late to undo the damage to the patient’s body. Similarly, one of the medication errors most likely to lead to opioid abuse and overdosage is excessive prescription, which occurs when the doctor prescribes more medication than necessary. This can result in leftover pills, which may be consumed by the patient or by someone else with access to the drugs. Conversely, an under-dosage of medication can be extremely harmful, as the patient does not receive sufficient treatment for the injury or illness that required medication in the first place.
Even before prescribing a medication, the doctor needs to talk to the patient about the drug. This includes discussing the risks of the medication and providing the patient with specific instructions about how to take the medication. If the doctor fails to provide these instructions, or if the incorrect instructions are provided, the patient may not know how to safely ingest the medicine. On a related note, physicians have a legal duty to provide the patient with information about a medication’s known side effects before the medication is prescribed. This information is similar to the requirement that a patient provide informed consent before undergoing a surgical procedure.
In addition to the treating doctor’s duty of care, nurses hold similar responsibility when caring for patients within the typical scope of their duties. In essence, nurses are supposed to be trained to safely and correctly administer medications to patients. This typically involves recognizing the right dosage, the right medication, and the right technique and route for administering the medication. When the wrong technique is used by the nurse, the mistake could prove deadly for the patient. Lastly, medication errors can also occur due to negligent behavior by pharmaceutical companies. At times, pharmaceutical companies fail to provide adequate information about the potentially harmful side effects of a medication (also known as failure to warn), or manufacture a drug that is subsequently recalled due to negative health consequences.
Contact our NJ Pharmacy & Medication Malpractice Lawyers for Assistance
Medication errors are often preventable, but can cause some of the most severe health complications for victims. Fortunately, the law provides you with recourse to hold those responsible for protecting your health accountable for their negligence. Finding the answers you need to move forward with confidence is essential. Contact one of our offices today to schedule a free initial consultation about your medication error claim: 973-435-4551 (toll free at 888-409-0816).