How Often Does Medical Malpractice Occur Because of Medication and Prescription Errors?


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Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider or institution fails to provide competent medical services and causes injury to a patient as a result. Medical malpractice can take many different forms. Making errors with medication is a leading example.

Negligence with Medication and Prescription Drugs

In any instance of medical malpractice, the common theme is that a patient was injured because of someone else’s negligence. Unfortunately, many individuals are injured each year when health care providers make errors in administering and prescribing medications. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates that about 1.3 million people in the United States were injured as a result of medication errors each year.

Types of Medication and Prescription Errors

With an alarming number of people being impacted by medication errors, it is important to understand some of the commonly seen instances. Prescription drug errors can occur when:

  • A patient is administered the wrong medication
  • A patient is given the incorrect dosage of medication, which could result in them receiving too much or little of the medication
  • A patient is given a medication that their medical history indicates they are allergic to
  • A patient is prescribed a medication that will have an adverse reaction with another medication they are already taking
  • Healthcare providers fail to educate a patient about the potential side effects of a medication
  • Medication is improperly labeled
  • Medication is prescribed before a patient’s medical history is reviewed
  • A pharmaceutical company fails to disclose known potential side effects of a medication

Who is at Fault for Medication Errors?

When a patient is prescribed or administered any type of medication, there are several parties involved throughout the process. As a result, any of these individuals or organizations can be held accountable for the injuries that occur because of negligence. Those who could be held liable in a medical malpractice lawsuit include:

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Hospitals
  • Medical offices
  • Pharmacists
  • Pharmaceutical manufacturers
  • Anyone else involved with prescribing medications

How Do These Medication Errors Occur So Frequently?

With so many people being injured because of medication errors, it is apparent that these mistakes occur on a routine basis. The question then becomes, how are errors made so frequently when it comes to medication and prescription drugs?

Healthcare offices and hospitals are busy places. The reality is that the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers are often trying to treat each patient as quickly as possible in order to help the next individual. During this process, it can be easy for mistakes to happen. For example, a patient’s medical history may clearly indicate that he or she is allergic to certain medications. If this information is not thoroughly reviewed, then injury can occur when a patient is administered a medication that can elicit an allergic reaction.

Medication errors can also occur as a result of mislabeling. If a pharmacist mislabels a medication, it then becomes extremely easy for a patient to be given the wrong medication or an incorrect dosage. Additionally, it is the job of all health care professionals to educate patients about the potential side effects for any prescription drug. This includes informing individuals about any food or substances they should avoid while taking the medication, which could cause adverse reactions or prevent the medication from working properly.

Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

If you or a loved one was seriously injured because of a medication or prescription drug error, you have the opportunity to seek compensation for your injuries. If you feel that the injury was the result of negligence, your first step should be to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. A legal professional can work with you to determine exactly what went wrong and gather evidence to support your case.

In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is two years. This means that you have two years from the time you discover the injury to pursue legal action. Ross Feller Casey has an unmatched record of legal victories in all types of medical malpractice lawsuits, including cases involving prescription errors. 

For a free evaluation of your case and to learn more about your options, contact the attorneys at Ross Feller Casey now.

About the Author

With more than 20 years of experience as a physician, Dr. Gerald B. Parker brings a unique perspective as a Philadelphia doctor-lawyer to Ross Feller Casey.

Gerald Parker, III

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