The baby boomers in New York State are aging. There are a lot of "seniors", "elderly", or just plain "old folks" around. This means New Yorkers are more and more dependent on drug prescriptions to keep them alive, healthy and free of aches and pains. And of course lots of young folks need medication as well.
We also depend on pharmacists and doctors to give us the right medicine, in the right dosage, with the right instructions, at the right time.
Hospitals register more than 6,000 deaths a year from prescription mistakes. And that's just hospitals. More people die outside of hospitals due to medication errors. Why? Prescription error, of course. But why so many medication mistakes?
First, some drug names closely resemble others. And when a miscommunication occurs between the doctor and the pharmacist regarding the name of the drug, it can lead to serious injury or death.
A mistaken dosage is, in many cases, equally life-threatening.
When 10 mg mistakenly becomes 100 mg, or when a full dose is dispensed rather than a more diluted dosage, again, death or serious injury can result.
Moreover, doctors are required to ask a patient about allergies. If they don't, or if they do so in a rushed manner, they might not get the information they need from the patient about pharmaceutical allergies.
Further, doctors need to know what other drugs you are taking, and what allergies you have to medication, before prescribing you a drug. Contra-indicated drugs and medicine that cause you allergic reactions create unacceptably high risks. They can cause not only bad reactions, but heart attacks, or death.
To make matters worse, doctors have notoriously bad handwriting, and even though writing a prescription that is legible is so important to the health and safety of their patients, they sometimes rush it, and write a prescription that is misinterpreted by the pharmacist.
Other reasons for medication mistakes are: the manufacturer or pharmacist might place look-alike drug packages in a row; the pharmacist might mix your name up with another patient's; the pharmacist might not hear the doctor correctly over the phone, and as a result, writes down the wrong drug or doses. There are, of course, countless ways that medication prescription errors occur, but they all have one thing in common: If you were given the wrong drug or prescription, you probably have a solid prescription medical malpractice case against either the pharmacist who dispensed the drug or the physician who prescribed the drug.
There is really no excuse for these errors --- doctors and pharmacists know, or should know, that the consequences of a mistake in prescribing or dispensing a medication can lead to serious injury or death. So they should take every precaution to avoid such prescription mistakes.
Unfortunately, they sometimes fail to follow prescription medication rules, and end up killing or injuring their patients. In fact, prescription errors has for many years been one of the most common types of medical malpractice.
You can help avoid becoming a victim of prescription errors by checking carefully the label and dosage on your medication, and asking your doctor and your pharmacist questions if any doubts arise in your mind. In this day and age, you can also independently investigate proper medication dosages and contra-indications by “googling” the medicine online.
Still, it is your doctor’s and pharmacist’s job to make sure you are properly and safely medicated. If they don’t do it right, and as a result you or a family member is injured or harmed, you have a valid medical malpractice claim.
The Auburn, New York pharmaceutical error attorneys of Michaels & Smolak have recovered millions of dollars for clients injured, or whose loved ones were killed, by prescription errors and for other injuries. If you or a loved one has been a victim of a medication error, CONTACT US for a free consultation with an experienced lawyer who can inform you of your legal rights and maximize your compensation.