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Medication Errors

Medications that we depend on to cure or control illness can cause serious injury if they are given to a patient in error. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it receives about 300 voluntary reports of medication errors every month. The total number of medication errors in our country is thought to be much higher.

Medication errors can cause patients to suffer the effects of overdoses, underdoses (too little medication), allergic reactions or adverse reaction to a combination of drugs. At the least, a patient does not get the medical treatment they need if there is an error in the medication they receive. When a medication error is due to negligence, the injured patient or the surviving family members may have a right to pursue a medical malpractice claim for compensation.

Kraft & Associates, P.C., of Dallas can help if you believe you or a loved one has been harmed by a medication error. We investigate medical malpractice claims in Texas and seek compensation for individuals and families who have been significantly harmed by a preventable medical error.

We’re an established and professional law firm with friendly lawyers and staff who are easy to talk to. Please call us at (214) 999-9999 or contact us online now for a free and confidential claim evaluation.

How Preventable Medication Errors Happen

The National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention (NCCMERP) defines a medication error as “any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient or consumer.”

For example, a medication error may be related to:

  • Order miscommunication, including illegible or confusing directions.
  • Prescribing errors.
  • Product packaging and labeling.
  • Nomenclature (confusion of similar drug names).
  • Compounding (combining multiple drugs to create a specific medication).
  • Dispensing (preparation, recordkeeping and transfer).
  • Administration (giving to patient).
  • Education of those handling medications.
  • Monitoring use of medication by patients.
  • Use of the medication by the patient.

Many errors are rooted in miscommunication. The NCCMERP cites several common and potentially confusing abbreviations that medical professionals use. A few that can easily lead to overdose include:

  • The letter U for “units.” It may be misread as a zero or a four. It can also be mistaken for “cc” (cubic centimeters) when poorly written.
  • O.D., Latin for “every other day.” If the “O” is poorly written, it may look like a period or an “I”, leading to misinterpretation as “QD” (daily) or “QID” (four times daily).
  • T I W, used to indicate “three times a week.” It can be misinterpreted as meaning “three times a day” or “twice a week” (an underdose).

The FDA reports actual cases of medical error it has been advised of:

  • A patient died because “20 units of insulin” was abbreviated as “20 U,” but the “U” was mistaken for a zero. As a result, a dose of 200 units of insulin was accidentally injected.
  • A pump supplying morphine to a 9-year-old girl recovering from surgery was to be turned off but was turned up instead, causing an overdose.
  • A physician ordered a 260-milligram preparation of Taxol for a patient, but the pharmacist prepared 260 milligrams of Taxotere instead. Both are chemotherapy drugs.
  • An older patient with rheumatoid arthritis died after receiving a 10-milligram daily dose of the drug methotrexate rather than the intended 10-milligram weekly dose. Daily doses of methotrexate are used to treat cancer, while weekly doses are prescribed for other conditions, such as arthritis.
  • A patient developed a fatal hemorrhage when given another patient’s prescription for the blood-thinner warfarin.

An investigation into a potential medical malpractice claim because of a medication error would examine records of the patient’s case and the medical institution’s standards, policies, practices and procedures. Medication errors are often caused by a series of system failures that allow the error to occur, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices says. It may be that a hospital, clinic, pharmacy or another institution was negligent and its owners and administrators should be held accountable.

Our legal team enlists the help of outside medical experts, including hospital administrators and other medical and pharmacological system managers, who understand proper protocols for ordering, prescribing, dispensing, compounding and administering drugs for medical purposes.

When negligence is found, we can seek full and fair compensation for the patient’s losses, including past, present and future medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.

Contact Our Medical Malpractice Lawyers About a Medication Error

The medical malpractice attorneys of Kraft & Associates, P.C., can investigate your case if you suspect that you or a loved one has been injured by a medication error. We investigate medication errors with the help of independent medical experts and aggressively pursue compensation for our clients against even the largest medical institutions when we find that harmful errors were caused by negligence.

Medical malpractice cases are complex and Texas law imposes strict deadlines for filing personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. It is important to begin the work required in a malpractice case as soon as possible.

Contact Kraft & Associates for a free and confidential review of your legal options today. Complete our online form, email us at kraftlaw@kraftlaw.com, or call us at (214) 999-9999.

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