Valenzuela Law Firm, PA | Trial Attorney
Attorney Henry E. Valenzuela

Who is responsible for the medication error?

On Behalf of | Apr 11, 2024 | Medical Malpractice

Taking medication is one of the most common ways of treating illnesses ranging from mild colds to severe health issues. Sometimes, the only way to alleviate symptoms is by using medication, but it can also become harmful under certain circumstances. The health industry follows strict guidelines and rules to maintain a standard of care, which also applies when providing patients their medicine. However, mistakes can affect one or more steps of the process, leading to medication errors with grave consequences.

It can be challenging to pinpoint who is at fault for the error specifically. The following could be responsible based on the situation:

  • The treating physician – They could take the blame if the error happened because of mistakes in the prescription. These issues can include missing information, poor handwriting making the details illegible, confusion due to disorganized patient records, failure to consider adverse reactions and other blunders.
  • The pharmacist – In some cases, the prescription might be correct. Still, the pharmacist could make a mistake when dispensing the medication, such as providing the medicine with the incorrect dosage or confusing the medication with another that sounds similar.
  • The patient’s nurse, caretaker or whoever administered the medicine – Other times, the person administering the medication could be at fault, possibly due to misunderstanding the instructions for using the substance. These incidents can become fatal, especially if the prescribed medicine has high risks of adverse reactions or overdose.

Most medication lapses are caused by human error. These mistakes can result in long-term problems or deaths, making it crucial for health providers to seek systematic solutions to reduce contributing risk factors.

Addressing medication errors

Some medication errors are unavoidable, such as if the patient has an unknown allergy to the medicine or unexpectedly suffers an adverse reaction. Still, procedures exist to address these scenarios and minimize harm. If the medication error occurs due to carelessness or negligence, it can be medical malpractice, necessitating legal action based on the circumstances.

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