The impact of medicine & prescription errors

According to the NHS, a medicine and prescription error refers to any case of a mistake being made in the process of prescribing, preparing, dispensing, and administering, monitoring, or advising on medicines. This gives plenty of opportunities for error and opens the medical professional open to having a claim made against them.

Taking the wrong medication, or the right medication in the wrong quantities can have serious consequences, sometimes long-term and sometimes resulting in loss of life, and this is why it is essential that patients are protected. If you feel that you have been caused unnecessary suffering due to an error in medication or your prescription, there is a chance that you can make a claim for compensation.

Common medicines & prescriptions that are wrongfully distributed

There is, of course, the chance that any medication that is prescribed can be wrongfully distributed. Human error is always a risk, but some medications are more commonly wrongly distributed having a negative impact on the patient.

Some of the most common medications that are wrongly distributed include:

• Opioids
• Anticoagulants
• Antidepressants
• Antimicrobials
• Anticonvulsants

 Health effects that can be caused by medical & prescription errors

Health Effects that can be Caused by Medical & Prescription Errors

The effect of medical and prescription errors can be far-reaching. Some of the most serious effects that can occur to the patient include:

• Death
• A life-threatening situation
• Hospitalisation
• Birth defect
• Disability
• Allergic reactions

All of these are very serious and need to be mitigated against in as many ways as possible.

Could incorrect prescriptions & medicines lead to fatal consequences or further hospitalisation

In short, yes. There is a range of different consequences to incorrect prescriptions and medicines. Some of them can be that insufficient medication is given, in which case, it has less of an effect than intended, but in other cases, giving too much of the medication, or, indeed the wrong medication, can cause fatalities or hospitalisation.

How can the incorrect distribution of prescriptions & medicines be stopped

When it comes to prescribing, issuing, and distributing prescriptions and medication, many areas are open to error. It is important that we do what we can to protect patients and mitigate these potential risks.

Some of the ways that this is done include:

  • Clear labelling, including making it obvious when a particular drug is available in different strengths.
  • Ensuring that the medicating information given to patients and medical professionals alike is clearly set out.
  • Making communications to alert patients and medical professionals when there is a problem with a particular medication.
  • Using technology to ensure that the correct drugs are given out to patients – using a barcode system, for example.
  • Ensuring that packaging is clear for its use – it should be obvious, for example, when a medication is for use in the eye or topical use, for example.
  • Making sure that patients are aware of drug/drug or drug/food interactions.
  • Ensuring that there is an adequate drug-safety reporting system and using it.

Where to report medicine & prescription errors

If you suffer a medicine or prescription error, the first thing that you should do, of course, is to ensure that you are well. If you are in a life-threatening situation, the priority is that you are looked after.

If you have been given the wrong medication or wrong dose, and it has caused unnecessary suffering, there is a chance that you could make a claim for compensation for medical negligence. You should get in touch with a solicitor as soon as you can to find out whether you have a case.

Medical negligence claims are normally made on a no-win, no-fee basis, meaning that you usually only pay for the legal fees if you win the case. Claims normally need to be made within three years of the incident occurring unless the victim is under the age of 18, in which case they have up until the age of 21 to make the claim. The time limits involved, however, can be tricky and so it’s always best to discuss your case with a specialist lawyer first to ensure you’re aware of the time limits that apply to your individual case.

When a claim for compensation for a medicine or prescription error is made, there are two parts to the claim – known as General Damages and Special Damages. General damages are awarded to compensate for unnecessary suffering and injuries, and special damages refer to the compensation that is awarded for the monetary outgoings that have been incurred such as loss of earnings (past and future), travel costs, and treatment costs.

How Waldrons can help with medicine & prescription errors

If you have suffered an error in medication or prescription, and it has unnecessarily impacted you, get in touch with us here at Waldrons and speak to our expert team of solicitors about your rights to compensation.

More information on Medication and Prescription Errors

Back to all Insights


Last reviewed on 11/07/23 by Joseph Norton who is an Associate Director and Head of Compensation