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Can I Sue a Doctor for Prescribing Wrong Medication?
Medications can be powerful tools to help treat medical conditions, but improper usage can also lead to further complications – especially with prescription drugs. When improper medicines, dosages, or even combinations of medications come into play, a patient may suffer a further decline in health, or even a wrongful death. If the fault rests with the prescribing doctor, is it possible to sue? Read on to learn more or consider speaking with a Bakersfield medical malpractice attorney.
Prescription Errors as Medical Malpractice
Prescription errors can be a form of medical malpractice, in which a healthcare professional’s negligence leads to harm or damages to a patient. As a type of personal injury case, a medical malpractice claim consists of three major factors:
- The doctor had a duty of care to the patient
- The doctor breached that duty of care
- The breach caused the plaintiff harm
In terms of prescription errors, the doctor has a duty of care to provide you with reasonable treatment. Prescribing the wrong medication (which can have severe consequences) is the breach of that duty, and any resulting harm that resulted from that prescription error may be eligible for compensation.
The complication that can arise from these cases is proving the duty of care and the breach. Often, the plaintiff will accomplish this by bringing in an expert witness that can testify and establish a reasonable standard of care, which serves as a comparison point for the doctor’s actions. In many cases, a doctor may be at fault if he or she:
- Prescribes an incorrect medicine
- Prescribes an incorrect dosage
- Prescribes a medication that has known negative side effects with a patient’s other medications
- Prescribes a medication that triggers a patient’s known allergies
- Prescribes a medication that does not help the medical condition and causes the patient’s condition to worsen
- Does not make clear the instructions for correct usage
- Writes a prescription that a pharmacist may misread
Another important point of this type of case is that the error must have caused some form of harm. For example, if you picked up your prescription from the pharmacist and recognized the dosage was incorrect before taking any, you would not have a claim. The same would hold true even if you took the incorrect dosage and experienced no side effects.
Other Potentially Responsible Parties for Prescription Errors
While the doctor is often the first person you may consider suing for your prescription errors, he or she is not always the responsible party. Pharmacists, nurses, and manufacturers are all potentially liable for a prescription error. In some hospitals, the medical institution may be liable for any errors made by its staff. Additionally, a patient can be partially at fault if he or she is not open about his or her medical history when consulting with healthcare professionals.
With so many potentially liable parties for a prescription error, it’s essential to have skilled legal help on your side – both to correctly determine the at fault party and to meet strict filing requirements. Inaccurately filing your claim can be the difference in between a successful case and a lack of compensation. With the investigation resources and expert contacts of a law firm, you increase your chances of receiving compensation for the prescription error.
California law sets the statute of limitations for most medical malpractice cases to one year after discovery of injuries or within three years of the date of the injury. This strict timeline applies to prescription errors and means that you may waive your right to compensation if you do not file promptly. It’s in your best interest to hire an attorney the moment you discover the damages caused by the error.
If you’re uncertain if you have a medical malpractice case due to a prescription error, talking with a Bakersfield lawyer can help you understand your rights and learn if you’re eligible to receive compensation.