It’s become normal for many American adults to be on some form of prescription drug, especially as medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes are on the rise.
We get prescription drugs for pain, antibiotics for infections, mood altering drugs for depression and anxiety. We take over the counter drugs for twinges in our muscles and joints, seasonal allergies, and acid reflux.
Medication has become part of our daily lives, but how much does the average person know or understand about the drugs he or she takes? We go to the doctor and we’re handed a prescription that we take to the pharmacy to fill, and we trust that everyone in the process knows what they’re doing and gets it right, especially when every drug seems to have several different names — the technical name, the brand name, the generic name. It can be hard for a layperson to keep track.
When a doctor or nurse practitioner makes an error when writing a prescription, either because of negligence or recklessness, the consequences for the patient can very serious. Prescription drugs require prescriptions precisely because they can be harmful if not taken in the right doses and at the right times, and they require a doctor’s supervision to make sure that the patient takes them in a way that’s safe and appropriate for his or medical condition.
Consequences of Prescription Errors
Prescription errors could involve the doctor or nurse practitioner writing the prescription for the wrong medication, wrong dose, or wrong frequency. When one or more of these happen, the patient can suffer:
- Drug Interactions — Before prescribing a drug, your doctor should take a medical history that includes asking you about other prescription and over the counter medications you’re taking. The doctor should prescribe medication that will work alongside your other medications. However, when the doctor writes the prescription for the wrong medication, the chemistry of that incorrect medication could interact with other drugs in your system in a way that makes you sick or causes damage. In some instances, the incorrect medication could interfere with or cancel out the therapeutic benefits of other drugs, which could affect your health and cause serious complications.
- Adverse Reactions — If you are given a prescription for the wrong medication, then you could potentially be given a drug to which you are allergic. For example, say you have strep throat and your doctor prescribes antibiotics. You told the doctor you’re allergic to penicillin, and the doctor was supposed to prescribe a different class of antibiotics that won’t make you sick, but is bouncing back and forth between several patients and writes down “Moxatag,” the brand name for Amoxicillin, because that’s a common antibiotic used for strep throat. You don’t realize from the name Moxatag that you’re being given a form of penicillin, and when you take it you have a serious allergic reaction and end up in the emergency room with a swollen tongue and unable to breathe because you took a medication your body can’t handle. If the doctor was negligent in giving you Amoxicillin, you could have a malpractice claim.
- Serious Side Effects — Some drugs can have serious side effects that can be worse if the dose is too high. When you’re given the wrong drug, you may experience side effects that you didn’t expect and weren’t warned about, that could be painful or cause damage to your body.
- Aggravation of Underlying Medical Condition — If your doctor prescribes the wrong drug, it follows that you’re also failing to get the right drug for your medical condition. Your medical condition left untreated could cause serious problems. A simple respiratory infection could develop into pneumonia if you don’t get the right treatment, or if you have diabetes and are given the wrong prescription, the effects of continuous high blood glucose could case permanent damage to your body and lead to blindness, kidney damage, open wounds that don’t heal, or even amputation.
How a Lawyer Can Help
If a doctor or nurse practitioner made a prescription error that caused you illness, medical complications, or damage, an experienced medical malpractice lawyer may be able to help you pursue a claim. A lawyer can discuss with you the possibility for recovering compensation of your medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. A Chicago personal injury lawyer also can walk you through the process of making a claim, gather evidence to support your claim, negotiate on your behalf with the health provider’s malpractice insurance company, and file a lawsuit if necessary.