Q: Who can be held liable for my injuries from a medication error?
Liability for injuries caused by a medication error will depend on who acted in a careless or reckless manner. In other words, whose negligence was a contributing or outright direct factor for the mistake leading to the physical and/or emotional harm suffered?
Medication Errors Resulting from Healthcare Provider Negligence
In many cases, mistakes of this kind stem from a healthcare provider’s negligence. And they generally involve an error surrounding an incorrect drug or dosage. It could be a doctor who prescribes the wrong medication or a nurse who administers the wrong amount.
Sometimes medication errors happen when there is a failure to warn of known risks. For instance, the patient may have an increased risk of heart failure but the doctor never discloses this. In other cases, mixing drugs may cause an adverse reaction, yet the doctor fails to consider or address this possibility.
Pharmacists who mix up prescriptions or provide the patient with the wrong dosage could also be negligent. Proper communication with the doctor is important, so pharmacists should be sure they understand which medication is prescribed and in what dosage.
Equipment Malfunctions and Medication Errors
Errors involving medication can also occur when equipment malfunctions. An example would be a patient receiving a dose of chemotherapy much higher than should be given because of a problem with the machine. This can happen because of a hospital’s failure to inspect and maintain the equipment. In other cases, the manufacturer may have manufactured the machine defectively.
Liability will depend on who was negligent. In addition to the aforementioned, others that may potentially be responsible for injuries caused by a medication error includes anesthesiologists and dentists who negligently administer medication that causes injury. In some situations there may even be more than one party liable.