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What are prescription errors and why do they happen?

On Behalf of | Jan 20, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

When you’re prescribed a medicine by a medical professional, you expect that it should be correct. There’s very little involvement from you; you just assume that what you’re being given is what you need in managing or curing your particular illness.

Unfortunately, there are times when professionals make mistakes with prescriptions.

What is a prescription error?

A prescription error occurs when a patient is given the wrong prescription by a medical professional. This can have serious consequences for the patient as it can lead to inappropriate medication use which can cause the patient significant harm.

Why do prescription errors happen?

There can be many reasons why a prescription error may occur. People with certain conditions may find themselves on many medications at any one time and some of those drugs may not be mixable and dosages may need regular checking to make sure they’re still correct. In these cases, it may be that the prescription error was a genuine mistake.

More concerningly, however, are the instances where errors occur that are preventable and are the result of the negligence of a medical professional.

Examples of this may be:

  • Administering too much or too little of a drug to a patient due to inattention, lack of knowledge or a calculation error
  • Incorrect or insufficient information about a patient’s previous medical history and other current medications
  • Communication errors such as illegible handwriting, a failure to fill the prescription and a prescription being incomplete when dispensed
  • A failure by medical professionals to notice adverse reactions to medication after it has been administered

Giving the incorrect dosage of a medicine can have very serious consequences, with the possibility of overdose causing brain damage or even death. Damages are available for patients who have experienced this type of medical malpractice.