Nearly 70% of all American adults are prescribed at least one medication. With more than 131 million people receiving a regular prescription, it’s not uncommon for errors to exist. There is a specific subset of medical malpractice, known as pharmaceutical malpractice, that occurs when a person takes a defective or incorrect drug or an incorrect dose, due to another party’s negligence. It can lead to serious injury or even death.
The Cause of Most Medication Errors
Between 7,000 and 9,000 people die due to a medication error every year in the United States, and hundreds of thousands of others may experience adverse reactions. Most of the time, the patients themselves are at fault for one of the following:
- Failure to communicate drug orders
- Wrong drug selection chosen from a drop-down menu
- Confusion over similarly named drugs
- Confusion over packaging
- Dosing errors
However, the error can sometimes lie with a negligent party involved in the chain of ordering and filling prescriptions for the patient, including doctors or pharmacists.
Liability for Prescription Errors
Whether it’s a doctor prescribing an incorrect drug or a pharmacist incorrectly filling a prescription, proving liability can be very difficult. You need to show:
- Negligence: the doctor or pharmacist was negligent with the prescription—either with writing or misinterpreting it.
- Harm: the negligence directly resulted in specific harm.
- Damages: the harm led to specific damages such as physical pain, mental anguish, additional medical bills or lost wages due to missed work.
If you can prove all of these conditions, then you may have a case for pharmaceutical malpractice that you can bring against the liable party.
Stipulations for Medical Malpractice Cases
There are certain stipulations to keep in mind when filing a claim. Like all medical malpractice cases, the pharmaceutical malpractice claim must be brought soon after the injury occurs—the deadline is three years in Massachusetts. If you don’t file a lawsuit within that window, the court will dismiss your case regardless of the evidence. Also, expert testimony from a qualified medical specialist is almost always required in these cases.
Contact us if you think you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice, we can help you understand your rights and ensure you receive the compensation to which you’re entitled.