When it comes to medical care, patients place their trust in healthcare professionals to provide accurate diagnoses and appropriate treatments. However, healthcare professionals can make medication errors that have severe consequences for patients.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, over 4,000 people die each year due to medical errors, and many of those errors are medication errors. Medication errors that harm or injure patients may give rise to medical malpractice claims and it is important how those errors can happen.
Medication errors and patient harm
Medication errors occur when healthcare providers make mistakes in prescribing, dispensing or administering medication, leading to unintended consequences. These errors can range from healthcare providers prescribing incorrect dosages or medications to miscommunication during the prescribing process. Such mistakes can have serious repercussions on patient health and well-being.
Establishing medical malpractice
In Illinois, medical malpractice refers to healthcare professionals’ negligence or failure to provide a standard level of care, resulting in harm or injury to a patient. Medication errors can form the basis of a medical malpractice claim when patients can demonstrate that healthcare providers deviated from the accepted standard of care, and this deviation directly led to harm or injury.
To establish medical malpractice, patients must demonstrate that healthcare providers owed a duty of care to them and that they breached this duty. Patients can use any deviation from this duty, such as healthcare providers prescribing the wrong medication or administering an incorrect dosage, as evidence of breaching the standard of care.
In addition to breaching the duty of care, patients must show that medication errors directly caused harm or injury to them. This requires establishing a clear connection between the error and the resulting damages. For instance, if patients experienced severe adverse effects or suffered worsened health conditions due to medication errors, they can present this as evidence of causation.
Medication errors can have devastating consequences for patients. By understanding the elements of medical malpractice, patients can protect their rights and promote patient safety within the healthcare system.