Our Kansas City Medical Malpractice Lawyers Explain Medication Errors and Your Legal Options 

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a medication error, you know firsthand how devastating and life-altering these preventable mistakes can be. What may seem like a simple mix-up or oversight by a medical professional can have catastrophic consequences for the patient. Medication errors are considered medical malpractice, and it's crucial to consult with our skilled medical malpractice lawyers at Peterson & Associates, P.C. to understand your legal options for seeking justice and compensation.

What is Considered a Medication Error

A medication error refers to any avoidable incident that can result in the improper use of medication and harm to the patient, occurring at any point when the medication is under the management of a health care professional, the patient, or the consumer. It can occur at various stages, including prescribing, transcribing, dispensing, administering, and monitoring the medication.

Some types of medication errors include the following:

  • Wrong dosage. This occurs when a patient receives too much or too little of a prescribed medication. Both overdosing and underdosing can have severe consequences, ranging from ineffective treatment to life-threatening side effects. Overdoses can lead to toxicity, organ damage, and even death, while underdoses may fail to manage the condition being treated adequately.
  • Wrong drug. In these cases, a patient is given a medication entirely different from what was prescribed, which can lead to adverse reactions, ineffective treatment, or interactions with other medications they may be taking. Receiving the wrong drug can expose the patient to unnecessary side effects and potentially mask or exacerbate their underlying medical issue.
  • Wrong route of administration. Medications can be administered in various ways, including orally, intravenously, or topically. If a medication is administered through the wrong route, it may not be absorbed or metabolized correctly, leading to ineffective treatment or harmful side effects. For example, injecting a medication meant for oral use could cause severe tissue damage.
  • Failure to consider allergies or contraindications. Health care professionals must thoroughly review a patient's medical history and current medications to avoid prescribing or administering drugs that may interact dangerously with other medications or cause allergic reactions.
  • Inadequate monitoring. Proper monitoring of a patient's response to a medication is crucial. Failure to monitor can lead to missed signs of adverse reactions or ineffective treatment, potentially causing harm to the patient. Regular monitoring helps ensure the medication works as intended and allows for timely adjustments if needed.

Determining Fault for Medication Errors

Medication errors can occur due to the negligence or oversight of various health care professionals involved in the medication process, including:

  • Prescribing doctors. If a doctor prescribes the wrong medication or dosage or fails to consider potential interactions or contraindications, they may be liable for any resulting harm.
  • Nurses and medical staff. In hospital or clinical settings, nurses and other medical staff are responsible for administering medications correctly. Errors in administration, such as giving the wrong drug or dosage, can constitute medical malpractice.
  • Pharmacists. Pharmacists are vital in ensuring medications are dispensed accurately and with appropriate instructions. If a pharmacist dispenses the wrong medication or provides incorrect dosing information, they may be liable for any resulting harm.
  • Health care facilities. In some cases, the health care facility itself may be held responsible for medication errors if systemic issues, such as inadequate training, staffing shortages, or lack of proper protocols, contributed to the error.

Medical Malpractice and Your Legal Options

Medication errors are a form of medical malpractice, as they constitute a breach of the standard of care that health care professionals must provide. If you or a loved one has suffered harm due to a medication error, you could recover compensation for economic and non-economic damages, including:

  • Medical expenses. This includes past and future costs associated with treating the harm caused by the medication error, such as hospitalizations, treatment costs, medications, ongoing care, and emergency transportation.
  • Lost wages. This covers income lost due to missed work and diminished earning potential resulting from the medication error. It accounts for both the immediate loss of income during recovery and any long-term impact on your ability to earn.
  • Pain and suffering. Damages could be awarded to address the physical pain and emotional turmoil resulting from the medication error. It encompasses not only the immediate physical discomfort but also the long-term psychological impact, such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Loss of enjoyment or quality of life. Compensation may be provided to account for the diminished quality of life, such as mental anguish and loss of activities and hobbies, due to the harm caused by a medication error.
  • Punitive damages. In cases of negligence or intentional misconduct, punitive damages might be granted to penalize the responsible party and discourage future malpractice occurrences, serving as a deterrent and a form of retribution for such actions.

Hiring an experienced medical malpractice lawyer can help you understand your rights and take the appropriate legal action so you can both seek justice for your case and contribute to improving patient safety standards to prevent future instances of medical malpractice. Our skilled Kansas City medical malpractice lawyer can do the following:

  • Evaluate your case. Medical malpractice cases are often complex, involving detailed medical records and a deep understanding of health care standards. An experienced lawyer will first evaluate your case, considering the specifics of your situation. They will determine if a medication mistake caused you harm.  
  • Gather evidence. Evidence is an essential component of a medical malpractice medication error claim. Your lawyer will comprehensively gather all relevant evidence, including medical records, expert testimony, and witness statements, to build a strong case to support your claim.  
  • Advocate for your rights. Your Kansas City medical malpractice lawyer will represent you in all legal proceedings, from negotiating with insurance companies to arguing your case in court, if necessary. They ensure your voice is heard and your rights are represented, especially in front of parties like hospitals or medical professionals who have their own legal teams.