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Medication errors

GPs and hospital doctors can make mistakes when issuing prescriptions, for example, they may prescribe the wrong type of the medication, the wrong dose or for the wrong period.


<p> Mistakes can also be made by the pharmacist when they dispense the medication. They may provide the wrong medication, the wrong dose or even prescribe the medication to the wrong patient. Medication can also be administered incorrectly. When these medication errors result in injury or harm, a compensation claim may be possible.</p>

Although pharmacies and hospitals will normally have safety checks in place to minimise the chances of a prescription error being made, sometimes mistakes can occur.

Medication or prescription errors can occur for a variety of reasons. Sometimes these sorts of errors happen when a patient is provided with repeat prescriptions without being appropriately re-examined or reassessed by a doctor or nurse.

Shoosmiths has many years' experience in this type of case and have successfully represented people who have been the subject of medication errors by nurses and GPs, NHS Trusts and doctors working in the private sector to get the compensation they deserve.

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How do I make a claim about medication errors

There is usually a three year time limit to making a claim, and you could lose your right to claim if you do not take action within that time. These compensation claims can be complex, lengthy and demanding and this is why it is advisable to seek appropriate advice as soon as practicable.

Your chosen law firm should have solicitors who specialise in medical negligence claims as they will have the necessary experience and resources to handle your case. Often these solicitors will be members of specialist panels such as the Law Society Clinical Negligence Panel and/or AvMA Panel. We have solicitors in our medical negligence team who are members of both these panels.

Our team has considerable experience dealing with these types of medical negligence claims and can then give you free initial advice about whether a claim is possible and how it could proceed.

How long will my claim about medication errors take

It does take time to investigate your case properly to ensure we achieve the best possible outcome for you. Each case is unique and we will need to obtain copies of your medical records, dispensing and other relevant paperwork.

We also need to prepare witness statements and obtain independent medical reports to establish if your treatment has been negligent. If it has, we must then determine what harm you have suffered as a result of that negligence.

We must get an independent medical opinion about your current condition, what assistance you need immediately and what help you are likely to require on an ongoing basis. These things could all form part of your compensation claim. We would also need to take account of the financial losses you have incurred as a result of the negligence, such as lost earnings if you cannot return to work.

All this takes time, but is vital to properly assess and investigate your claim and recover the maximum amount of compensation to which you're entitled. The attitude of the other side also influences how long a claim may take to settle.

Cases in which liability (i.e. fault) is admitted settle faster than if liability is denied. Many claims settle through negotiation (sometimes even if liability is denied), but sometimes these cases can and do go to Trial. We can in certain cases obtain interim payments to fund any immediate needs that you might have as a result of the negligence.

If I have a case about medication errors

In order to make a successful compensation claim for an injury caused by a prescription or medication error, it will be necessary to prove that those involved in prescribing or dispensing the drug to you were negligent (e.g. gave you the wrong drug or too high a dose of the right drug) and that you suffered harm or injury as a direct result.

Negligence on the part of a doctor, nurse or pharmacist could be established if the standard of care that they provided was below that which you could reasonably expect of similar professionals in that area. For example, a doctor or nurse could potentially be negligent if they gave you medication when your medical records showed you had a known allergy to that medication and as a result of taking the medication you had a severe reaction.

Other cases of potential negligence might exist where a doctor or nurse fails to check if the medication given will have an adverse effect when combined with any existing drugs that you might be taking, or where a chemist or pharmacist may not notice that the medicine they dispensed was the incorrect dosage for you and your condition. Every case will turn on its own specific facts.

Whatever the cause of the mistake, if you believe that you may have been the victim of a prescription or medication error, then the most important thing to do, first and foremost, is to seek medical help.

More about medication errors

Sometimes the wrong dose or strength of a drug is prescribed or dispensed, leading to an overdose. Occasionally the wrong drug is given to the wrong patient because of incorrect labelling or even a computer error.

Even if the right drug is given to the right patient, it can sometimes be administered in the wrong way (e.g. intravenously instead of intramuscularly) leading to problems.

If you’ve had an allergic reaction to a particular drug in the past (for example penicillin), then this should be clearly noted on your medical records and you should not be prescribed that same medication in future.

Serious reactions can also sometimes occur if a patient is prescribed medications to which they are allergic or which should not be taken in conjunction with other medication that they are currently taking.

If an error has been made in prescribing or dispensing medication to you, then you may have a case for making a compensation claim if you have suffered an injury as a result of this.

'Shoosmiths got me the rehab I needed and really helped with my family. They were fantastic throughout.'

Nicola Cooper, who suffered a serious brain injury after a seemingly trivial car accident.

Medication Errors

Shoosmiths expert solicitors have considerable experience in cases of prescription drug mistakes or dispensing errors and can help you with a free initial consultation to discuss your options.

Why Shoosmiths

Who we work with

  • Brain Injury Group
  • Child Brain Injury Trust
  • Headway
  • SIA
  • Back Up
  • Macmillan
  • Danielles Flutterbyes
  • Forces
  • Bens Heroes Trust

Our accreditations

  • Accredited Personal Injury
  • Apil
  • Ama
  • Clinical Negligence
  • Legal 500
  • UK Chambers
  • The Society Of Clinical Injury Lawyers