More Americans than ever are taking more prescription drugs, and with doctors, pharmacists and other healthcare personnel all involved in the process, many decisions — and many opportunities for error — present themselves before even the first pill has been swallowed.
There is a wide range of errors that might occur at each step from doctor to patient. A doctor may prescribe an improper dosage, the wrong medication entirely, a medication that won’t interact well with the patient’s other prescriptions, or a drug to which the patient is allergic. A pharmacist may fail to follow the doctor’s prescription exactly, and may also neglect to contact the doctor with any questions or concerns about the prescription. Hospital staff members and other managed-care personnel may fail to dispense drugs properly according to instructions. And finally, although patients sent home with prescriptions should responsibly follow the dosage orders of the doctor and pharmacist, many simply don’t.
Assigning responsibility in the case of a drug-related injury or death comes down to a determination of what exactly caused the problem. If a doctor prescribes a drug properly and it is filled correctly by the pharmacist but is then improperly administered by other medical personnel, the hospital may be liable. However, if a hospital employee follows orders and administers a drug and dosage that have been approved by the doctor and pharmacist, any resulting injury or death is unlikely to be the hospital’s liability. In some cases, the manufacturer may even be liable, if they failed to warn of potential side effects or complications, or if the drug is somehow faulty or inappropriate for its intended use.
Finally, patient error that results in injury or death, even if the deviation from the doctor’s instructions was slight, is in some states enough to absolve any other parties of liability.
If you have been injured or have lost a loved one as a result of a prescription error, contact an experienced San Diego medical malpractice attorney at Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire right away.