A patient places trust in doctors, pharmacists and manufacturers when he or she uses a pharmaceutical or medical device. But the widespread incidence of prescription malpractice shows we aren’t always getting the best medicine – and that legal action may be necessary in order to obtain compensation for injuries.
It’s unfortunate that a medical malpractice attorney would need to get involved in your prescription medications. But malpractice with pharmaceuticals and medical devices – by medical doctors, pharmacists, administrators, nursing staff and manufacturers – can cause serious injury and death. Further, manufacturers of drugs have had massive recalls in recent years due to adverse effects being discovered after widespread patient use and injury.At least 400,000 patients are harmed by prescription malpractice every year in the U.S., some of them fatally.
A significant degree of healthcare is delivered through medical prescriptions, causing pharmaceutical malpractice to be far too common. Here are some of the ways in which prescription malpractice frequently occurs:
Physicians prescribe medications that injuriously interact with other medications the patient is already taking.
The doctor’s instructions to the pharmacist were misread or misinterpreted, leading to the wrong medication being prescribed or an incorrect dosage.
A nurse administers medications incorrectly or according to flawed instructions in in-patient settings.
A mistake in manufacturing resulted in a defective product.
Side effects are not disclosed by the pharmaceutical company.
The drug manufacturer was given approval to market the drug but adequate testing was not conducted or findings were misrepresented.
Important to note, however, is the fact that not all unfavorable medical outcomes are due to errors in pharmaceuticals or other interventions (therapy, medical devices, etc.). A prescription malpractice attorney (a medical malpractice attorney who specializes in prescription malpractice) must prove the following:
Did the patient’s condition deteriorate following treatment?
Do new symptoms correlate with known effects of the medication in question?
Can the physician provide a plausible alternative explanation for the patient’s worsened health?
Who is responsible in prescription malpractice cases?
In several widely reported cases (Fen-Phen, Rezulin, Baycol and others) in recent years, drug manufacturers have been shown to hide key facts about a medication’s side effects or exaggerated its efficacy. Economic pressures to bring medications to market and expand their use are believed to be responsible for this spate of medication malpractice injuries.
But even with prescription drugs that are proven effective and safe under proper conditions, several participants in healthcare delivery can still be negligent or reckless in the administration of medicine and medical devices:
Hospital and nursing home administrators
As with any form of medical malpractice, it is important for patients and their families who intend to file claims to collect all medical records and to establish a written record of conversations they had with medical professionals. Share this with your prescription malpractice attorney as you consider your options for seeking fair and just compensation.
R. Klettke is a freelance writer. He writes about personal injury and medical malpractice law and other matters of jurisprudence.
Important Advisory: This article is not intended to provide legal advice upon which you or anyone else should rely in making any decisions regarding the instituting or prosecuting of a legal claim. Laws and rules relating to the bringing of a claim vary widely from state to state. You should always contact a personal injury attorney to obtain information as to the rules and the laws pertaining to any claim you might have.