According to 2019 data from the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research, adverse drug events are the most common type of medication error. About 100,000 annual hospitalizations in the United States result from prescription drug errors, along with about 700,000 emergency room visits.
Individuals who take one or more prescription medications should understand the factors that lead to these preventable errors.
Common error categories
Most medication errors occur when an employee at a pharmacy, hospital or long-term care setting:
- Incorrectly dispenses medication
- Incorrectly administers the correct medication
- Does not monitor a patient properly when he or she takes a medication associated with complications
- Prescribes an inappropriate medication or dosage for a patient’s health condition
- Fails to prescribe a medication that could improve patient outcomes
Medical malpractice claims
When a medication error occurs in a health care setting, the patient or family can file a medical malpractice lawsuit if:
- An action or failure to act on behalf of the provider caused a medication error.
- He or she suffered an injury because of this negligence.
- The injury caused financial damage.
In Massachusetts, a medical malpractice plaintiff must have a doctor in the same specialty testify to the expected standard of care. The injured person can seek legal damages for all medical expenses associated with the injury, loss of companionship, physical or mental suffering, loss of function, loss of earning ability and loss of life expectancy.
The family has three years to file a claim in a medical malpractice case, which can extend to seven years if the person does not discover the injury right away.