When you are given a prescription for medication, the intention is to make you better. Unfortunately, when a mistake happens in the prescribing process the effects can be devastating. If a mistake has taken place with your medications, you may be able to bring a claim for medical negligence.
It is estimated that across England there are more than 200 million medication errors every year. These errors result in hundreds of avoidable deaths, and many other innocent people are left with symptoms or injuries from those errors which cost several millions pounds to treat. If you’ve been affected by a medication error it’s important that steps are taken to put things right for you and to ensure that the same thing doesn’t happen to someone else.
What is a Medication Error?
Errors in the medicine given to you can occur for a number of reasons, including:
• Prescribing the wrong medication: your doctor gives you a prescription for the wrong medicine.
• Prescribing the wrong dose medicine: your doctor gives you a prescription for the medication in a dosage which is either too high or too low.
• Dispensing the wrong medication: you have the correct prescription, but the pharmacist or chemist give you the wrong medication by mistake.
• Prescribing an unsafe medication: your doctor gives you a medication that is unsafe for you, either because of an existing health condition/allergy that you have which means that you shouldn’t take certain medications, or because of other medications that you already take.
• Giving you the wrong amount of medication: a nurse or anaesthetist who is providing you with the medications, perhaps intravenously, could provide you with the wrong amount of mediation so that it doesn’t work as intended.
What do you need to prove to bring a claim for a medication error?
In order to bring a successful claim for a medication error, you will need to show an error on the part of whoever gave you the incorrect medicine, and that you have suffered some form of injury as a result of that error. The injury might only be modest, for example symptoms lasting a few hours. On the other hand, symptoms might be lifelong and have a devastating effect on your life; the effects of giving the wrong medication can also be fatal.
So if, for example, you have been prescribed paracetamol (a common painkiller) instead of atorvastatin (medication for high cholesterol) you may experience symptoms or problems that otherwise would have been kept under control by the atorvastatin. You may be able to bring a claim for medical negligence to recover compensation for those uncontrolled symptoms.
Who do you claim against?
Claims can be made against chemists, pharmacies, Trusts, GPs, and many other organisations. Chemists in particular carry insurance to provide financial cover for this type of claim, so we would usually deal with an insurance company (rather than an individual pharmacist) when bringing a claim for a medication error.
How long do I have to claim? Is there a time limit?
Generally, the law allows you three years to bring a claim for medical negligence. This three-year period will usually run from the date of the negligence, although it can often start much later and it’s best to obtain specialist advice from one of our lawyers if you’re unsure about whether you’re in time to bring a claim.
How much compensation will I recover for a claim for a medication error?
Compensation can vary widely, and depends on the circumstances of each case. Compensation may be modest if the symptoms you are claiming for clear up after a few days. At the other end of the scale, compensation could be worth a significant amount if you suffer problems which have a significant impact on your life.
How much does it cost to bring a claim for a medication error?
This will depend on the circumstances of your case, but in every case we look to fund a claim in the most cost-effective way possible and choose the best method of funding for any individual client. The most common way of funding a claim is by a Conditional Fee Agreement, better known as a ‘No Win, No Fee’ Agreement, where you don’t pay anything if your claim is unsuccessful. We could also act for you under an existing policy of insurance that you might have.
We have a team of experienced medical negligence lawyers to help with your case. We are accredited with the Law Society’s Clinical Negligence Panel, and we are firm-members of both Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) and the Society of Clinical Negligence Lawyers (SCIL). We also have offices across the West Midlands, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, and offer home visits too.
We have experience of bringing claims involving medication errors, and have successfully settled many cases on behalf of our clients. You can read about one of our cases involving a medication error by clicking here.
How do I bring a claim for a medication error?
We’ll discuss your concerns over the phone in the first instance, on a no obligation basis and at no charge to you. If a claim is brought, we’ll set up funding for your claim, and investigate it on your behalf. We’ll update you at each step of the way as a claim is made, and aim to recover the compensation you deserve in either an out-of-Court settlement or at Trial if necessary.
The first step will be to contact one of our specialist medical negligence lawyers to discuss your case. Please click here to contact us.