Most Texas residents know that heart disease and cancer are the nation’s two leading killers, but they may be surprised to find out that medical errors are America’s third most common cause of death. This was the worrying conclusion reached by researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine when they scrutinized hospital records in 2016, and many of the cases they studied involved patients who lost their lives after being prescribed the wrong medication. Prescription drug errors of one sort or another kill thousands of Americans each year, and the vast majority of them are preventable.
Types of medication error
Patients can suffer harm when they are prescribed the wrong drugs or appropriate medications in doses that are either too high or too low. They can also suffer serious adverse relations when doctors prescribe drugs that should not be combined with medications that they are already taking. These medication mistakes are usually made by physicians or nurses, but they can also occur at pharmacies. Another common issue is patients overdosing after mixing over-the-counter drugs with prescription medications. This can happen when doctors fail to provide the proper advice.
Common causes of medication errors
Doctors and nurses often make medication errors because they are overworked and under stress. In these situations, patients who are harmed could file medical malpractice lawsuits against the hospital for not having enough staff on duty. Other common causes of prescription drug errors include:
- Lack of communication between doctors, nurses and patients. These mistakes can occur when doctors do not listen to their patients, nurses do not listen to doctors or pharmacists misread prescriptions.
- Information mix-ups. This kind of mistake often happens because medical records do not contain crucial information, such as the medications patients are already using.
- Lax oversight. When hospitals do not implement and enforce strict quality control polices, mistakes tend to occur more often.
Medical malpractice lawsuits
If you suffered a medical setback because your doctor prescribed the wrong drugs, an experienced attorney may ask experts to study the facts of your case to identify what caused the mistake and determine if the care you received met generally accepted medical standards. If it did not, an attorney could file a medical malpractice lawsuit on your behalf seeking compensation for your harm.