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Medication errors: There is often enough liability to go around

Did you know that a division of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does nothing but review reports regarding adverse events involving prescription, over-the-counter, and generic drugs? The Division of Medication Error Prevention and Analysis (DMEPA) works with other agencies and organizations in an attempt to ensure the safety of patients here in Ohio and elsewhere when it comes to medications. Health care professionals with DMEPA and the other organizations review reports of adverse events to determine what happened and compile the data so that recommendations can be made regarding how to avoid the same mistakes in the future. Despite their efforts, people continue to be seriously or fatally harmed.

What are the most common causes of medication errors?

The DMEPA says that a medication error is any "inappropriate medication use or patient harm" that results from a preventable event. Many of these events are predicated on one of the following:

  • How a medication order is communicated
  • How a product is labeled, packaged and named
  • How a drug is compounded
  • How a drug is dispensed
  • How a medication is distributed
  • How a drug is administered
  • How medical professionals, patients and consumers are educated regarding a drug
  • How well a patient is monitored for side effects
  • How the medication is used

The prescription itself can be the source of mistakes as well. Doctors can prescribe the wrong medication based on the wrong diagnosis, and the dosage can be wrong or misread. These errors all assume that the medication was properly manufactured and distributed. Any one of these mistakes could cause harm to patients.

What should you do if you or a family member suffered harm due to a medication error?

Adverse events involving medications can lead to a variety of serious, permanent and debilitating injuries that could change your life forever. In the alternative, one of your family members might have died from a medication error. In either case, there are more than likely multitudes of financial, emotional and physical losses with which you are now forced to deal.

It would be beneficial for you to contact an attorney who routinely deals with medical malpractice claims. After discussing your situation, an investigation should be conducted in order to determine what party or parties are responsible. Everyone from the company who manufactured the drug to the medical professionals involved in it ending up in your or your family member's body will be looked at to determine what went wrong and when. Once all of the parties who could bear some legal liability are identified, a lawsuit could be filed in an Ohio civil court.

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