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Can you sue for the wrong medication?

According to a 2021 study published by the National Library of Medicine, medication errors (ME) are among the highest reported medical incidences in Australia, with administration-only errors the highest cause of the problem. If you or someone you know has fallen victim to a wrong medication malpractice incident, you should seek legal advice right away.

This blog will uncover:

  • How to identify medical malpractice.
  • If you qualify for compensation.
  • How medical staff could make a medicine mistake.
  • How to prove malpractice against a hospital.

What is wrong medication medical malpractice?

If you’re heading to the physician for medication it’s likely you are already not in peak health. Add in the wrong medication and you’re heading down a worse road than where you started.

Medication malpractice is defined as a doctor, nurse or medical staff member prescribing you the wrong medicine, which causes you harm. This could also include the wrong dosage, the incorrect length of time for prescription or even inadequate advice. Your medic may have also misdiagnosed your condition and prescribed you the wrong medication as a result. There are reports of doctors who have written bad prescriptions just to make extra money as well.

These negligent mistakes or dishonest medical actions can be deadly for patients and illegal for the doctors, nurses and hospitals conducting them. A lawsuit could bring not only you or a loved one justice but could expose a crooked medical professional that may have harmed many other patients in the past.

At the same time, a physician may not be fully informed about their patient’s current medications or daily routine and, as a result, prescribe drugs that result in adverse reactions. The medical professional may not have asked the right questions, or even skipped them completely, leaving the patient unsure what they need to let the nurse or doctor know to keep themselves safe.

In all situations, it is the medical staff’s responsibility to understand their patient’s full medical history, ask the right questions and know which medications or lifestyles don’t mix with others. It’s important for patients to speak up about certain medical conditions and habits that may affect their medication, such as ongoing illness, pregnancy, smoking nicotine, allergies or regular medication they may be on.

How to know if you qualify for compensation

Medical malpractice and misdiagnosis can occur for a number of reasons. Knowing if you qualify for compensation can quickly become complicated. There are four qualifications you must meet to qualify for wrong medication compensation:

  1. A doctor-patient relationship must have existed. This means that you were directly treated by the medical staff member who diagnosed you. This could be anyone who oversaw your medical care and provided you with the final medication: a pharmacist, doctor, nurse or any other medical staff member.
  2. A competent professional would not have misdiagnosed you. Just because you did not see the results you wanted or are unhappy with the treatment doesn’t mean you will qualify for compensation. The medic must have been negligent to the point that another medical professional of the same skill level and care would have conducted themselves differently.
  3. Your current condition was caused by a negligent medical staff member. Typically, patients are already in poor health when they reach a hospital or medical office so it may be complicated to prove that the medication or treatment was the cause for your injury. The goal of the lawsuit will be to prove that, more likely than not, the doctor’s negligence caused your worsened state.
  4. The negligence led to an injury. The reason for suing a medical professional for wrong medication is to recover from the injury they caused. Types of conditions a patient may sue their medic for include:
  • Additional medical bills.
  • Physical harm.
  • Lost work and earning capacity.
  • Mental anguish.

Ways a doctor can make a medicine mistake

Alongside the signs of wrong medication, there are numerous examples of how a medical staff member could make a medicine mistake, including:

  • Wrong dosage.
  • Incorrect instructions.
  • Neglecting patient allergies or achieving adverse reactions.
  • Ineffective medication.
  • Failing to communicate the side effects.

Every medical expert, from pharmacists and technicians to nurses and doctors, has a duty to their patients. For example, when you go to pick up your prescription, the pharmacist should make sure you understand how to use the medicine and the potential side effects — as well as checking the dosage and length of use to ensure that it makes sense for the type of medication prescribed. If a pharmacist were to notice a discrepancy in the medication, they could conduct what’s called a clinical intervention. This is known as “any professional activity by the pharmacist directed towards improving the quality use of medicines and resulting in a recommendation for a change in the patient’s medication therapy, means of administration or medication-taking behaviour,” according to the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s 2019 Guidelines for Pharmacists Performing Medical Interventions eBook.

How to prove malpractice

Proving that wrong medication malpractice did occur will be your biggest challenge when facing a lawsuit. There are innumerable ways a patient may have received the wrong medication. Proving they were in the wrong is the basis of medical negligence claims.

The first step toward proving malpractice is to follow the qualification list above. These points are necessary to prove the causation of your injury and will be what the judge will look for as they review your claim. It will be helpful to talk to a different trusted doctor as well to get their opinion on what they would have done or prescribed in the same situation.

Gathering as much information and evidence as you can help support your case.

Partnering with a medical malpractice lawyer

If you do choose to sue a doctor, nurse or hospital for medication errors, working with a medical malpractice lawyer will prove to be immensely helpful. Medical professionals are backed by many different laws that make a malpractice lawsuit difficult to navigate on your own. Your lawyer will handle the legal details to prove causation.

A healthcare professional may try to defend against your case if they believe that the negligence was not solely their fault. A medical error may have occurred, for example, if the patient did not communicate their allergies to certain medications or did not mention being on medication at the time which resulted in negative reactions to the prescription. The doctor or nurse may also suggest that the patient was not properly taking the medication as directed.

Your lawyer will collect medical records, testimonies, a third-party doctor’s opinion and interview many of the staff involved with your misdiagnosis to prove you were a victim of medical malpractice through wrong medication.

Gerard Malouf & Partners is the leading no win, no fee law firm in Australia. We specialise in maximising your malpractice lawsuit compensation. We have won an excel of $4 billion for our clients in the past and we can help you too. Reach out to a medical negligence lawyer at Gerard Malouf & Partners for a no-obligation advice consultation today.

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