Medication Mistakes in Utah: Is it Medical Malpractice?
Medication errors can occur at any point along the pathway beginning when the drug is prescribed, when it is dispensed, and when it is actually taken or administered to the patient. They can occur in Utah hospitals and clinics, in pharmacies, or at home. An Adverse Drug Event (ADE) is defined as the harm experienced by a patient as a result of exposure to a medication. It is estimated that nearly half of ADEs are preventable. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ADEs account for 700,000 emergency room visits and 100,000 hospitalization each year in the United States.
Drug errors are probably the most common type of preventable adverse events in all healthcare settings. These errors often occur due to poorly labeled drugs, drugs with similar sounding names, wrong patient errors, decimal point errors, drug interactions, allergic reactions, and numerous other types of mistakes.
Certain types of medications have a significantly increased risk of causing injury and harm if misused or inappropriately prescribed. For example, benzodiazapine sedatives in elderly patients, oral anticoagulants like warfarin, aspirin-like medications, and opioid pain medications. These four drugs alone account for 50% of emergency room visits for ADEs in Medicare patients.
So is a medication error that results in injury or death to a patient medical malpractice in Utah? As a Utah medication malpractice attorney, I have seen many types of medication errors. Many of them are, in fact, medical malpractice. Sometimes a potentially dangerous medication, such as methadone, is prescribed in an excess dosage and the patient is not carefully followed. I've seen cases of a vital medication not be administered as prescribed, resulting in the underlying disease going untreated. I've seen cases of dangerous drug interactions occurring because two or more medications were prescribed inappropriately.
The only way to know if a specific drug error amounts to medical malpractice in Utah is to have the case reviewed by an experienced medical malpractice attorney. The case must also generally be reviewed by a competent medical expert familiar with the standard of care and practice in Utah. If you suspect you or a loved one are the victim of a drug or medication error in a Utah hospital or clinic, I would be happy to talk to you for free to discuss any potential claims you may have.