Medication is said to be one of the easiest places for errors to happen. This is because the chain followed by a specific medication to get from the manufacturer to the patient has many hands. As such, there are many potential defendants in a malpractice suit. By virtue of this, it increases the chances of errors and problems including:
- exposure to inappropriate temperatures during shipping
- misidentification by a pharmacy technician
- improper prescription
- excessive dosing
Because there are so many hands medication passes through, it begs the question of liability. Who then becomes responsible when a medication error occurs? And who should have to pay for the harm that resulted from such a mistake?
Generally, the primary target of medication in lawsuits are doctors and nurses. Often this is because they actually prescribe and administer the medication. As a result, they are typically in the best position to prevent the error. Doctors and nurses have an obligation to act in the best interests of their patients. In addition, they are to remain vigilant about factors such as:
- dangerous drug interactions,
- allergic reactions, and
- other factors that could make the medicine do more harm than good
If these professionals fail to undertake their role of vigilance and observation they have breached their duty to the patient. As a result, they are liable for the harm that results.
Pharmacists can also be added to the mix of possible defendants in medical error cases. Because a common cause of medication-related death is medication misidentification. The role of a pharmacist is to prevent the mix-up of drugs. Theirs is to give the correct drug and dosage according to the prescription. They must follow the prescription given by a doctor, including refills. By giving too much, insufficient, or inappropriate alternative medication can also be problematic and lead to liability.
Medical facilities also make for potential defendants in medical error lawsuits. Be it a pharmacy, hospital, clinic, or professional practice group. These institutions owe a duty of responsibility when hiring and monitoring the conduct of their employees. Therefore, errors by any of the individual employees can fall to the employer.