When we visit a local pharmacy to fill a prescription, our first thought is typically, “I hope my insurance covers the cost of this medication.” However, there are alarming statistics that suggest we should actually be focused on something else: Making sure we are given the correct medication!
Bolton Law Group has received a number of calls from Indianapolis-area residents who have reported that they received the wrong medication from their pharmacy. In some instances, the caller was careful enough to first inspect the packaging, label, and medicine before ingesting it. Yet, we have also spoken to people who took the wrongly prescribed medication, leading to a serious injury.
If you have been injured by a medication error, we highly recommend that you speak to an Indianapolis medication lawyer to help ensure that evidence is secured and your rights are protected.
How common are prescription refill errors?
A number of sources, such as drug manufacturers and healthcare professionals, file reports throughout the year with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) each time a known prescription or medication refill error occurs. The FDA then uses these reports to better guide drug manufacturers on the production of safer designs, medication names, packaging, and labels in an effort to help reduce the risk of drug errors.
However, based on the number of reports received by the FDA, the problem is much bigger than most people realize, and there does not appear to be any signs of this danger correcting itself.
So how many medication error reports are the FDA receiving from these various sources? More than 100,000 each year. It should also be noted that this only accounts for officially documented prescription errors, meaning the number is likely higher. In fact, it has been estimated that 7,000 – 9,000 people are killed each year due to a medication or prescription refill error.
To most of us, it seems impossible that the United States, with all of its regulation and technology, would be experiencing such a spike in medication errors. It would also seem there has to be something obvious at which we can point the finger, yet the truth is that these mistakes are made in a number of different ways.
How do medication mistakes happen?
If you are cautious and alert enough to see that you were prescribed the wrong medication, the natural reaction might be to simply blame the pharmacist who filled your prescription, and while that may turn out to be the case in some instances, it is also just as likely the error was made due to another factor, such as:
- Use of abbreviations or shorthand – Depending on state law and circumstances, a doctor may be forced to use electronic means to prescribe medicine, however, Indiana still allows medical professionals to write scripts by hand if they choose to do so. When abbreviations or shorthand are used, it can easily lead to a misinterpretation by the pharmacist.
- Incorrect data entry on a computer system – Technology, such as e-prescribing, is largely in place to help ensure medication errors are not made, however, an overreliance on this technology sometimes leads to mistakes by people who assume it can always be trusted.
- Mixing up patient orders – If you’ve ever seen the baskets filled with medication at a Walgreens or CVS, you might understand how a simple mix-up can occur, giving you someone else’s medication.
- Communication barriers – A doctor may call in prescriptions and a language barrier could lead to a mistake or prescription error.
- A physical refill mistake
- Poor handwriting – We have all heard the jokes about doctors having terrible handwriting, but in instances where writing is difficult to read, the end result can be a medication error.
- Not identifying “high-alert” medications
- Incorrect dosages of the right medication
There are a large number of checks and balances in place to ensure prescriptions are correctly filled and medications are properly dispensed, but no one should ever assume that the medication they receive from their pharmacy is correct.
Prescription and medication error injuries
The first step anyone should take if they accidentally ingest the wrong medication is to call their local poison control center or the national group at 1-800-222-1222.
The effects of taking the wrong medication can lead to devastating consequences, and a number of factors will determine the severity of an injury a prescription error may have on a person, including:
- the person’s age
- the type of medicine that was erroneously taken
- the dosage of the medication
- any known or unknown allergic reactions that result from taking the wrong medication
- known current medical conditions that may interact with the mistaken medication
Depending on these factors, a medication error has the potential to cause:
- wrongful death
- future life-threatening side-effects
- birth defect
- permanent disability
Have you been injured by a prescription refill mistake?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured by an Indiana pharmacy or prescription refill mistake, you may be entitled to compensation. It is important that you speak with an experienced Indianapolis personal injury lawyer to understand your rights in these cases.
Attorney Matt Boulton founded the Boulton Law Group to give injured people across Indiana access to award-winning legal representation with a Zero Fee Guarantee. This means that anyone who was injured by a prescription refill error will never pay Boulton Law Group a consultation fee, and the only way we receive money for our services is after we win your case.
To speak to attorney Boulton direct about your potential claim, you can contact him at 317-350-2680, or you can write to us with the details of your story by using our confidential contact form.
Attorney Matt Boulton is an award-winning personal injury attorney with more than 20 years of experience helping seriously injured people throughout Indiana reclaim what was taken from them. His firm was created for for the client who expects exceptional service and passionate, successful legal representation.