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If prescribed medications were mishandled by being filled with the wrong strength of medicine, the wrong number of doses, or with the wrong medication entirely, prescription mistakes can be disastrous with many consequences.

It often takes time and a little detective work to determine whether consequent medical problems and even death can be attributed to errors in filling a patient’s prescription. When such mistakes are suspected to have caused harm, a Raleigh Pharmacy/Pharmacist error lawyer can help with your medical malpractice case.

What is a Prescription Error?

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s Division of Medication Error Prevention and Analysis defines a medication error as “any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the healthcare professional, patient, or consumer.”

Medication errors with both prescription and over-the-counter medications can occur in the context of:

  • Prescribing medication and communicating the prescription
  • Product labeling, packaging, and naming
  • Formulating
  • Dispensing
  • Distribution
  • Administration and education
  • Monitoring the dispense of the medication
  • Use of the medication

When the preventable event involves a medication prescribed by a health care professional with a duty of care to patients, it becomes a Pharmacy/Pharmacist error.

Causes of Prescription Errors

Mistakes with prescription medications can be common because there are many opportunities for error between the time a doctor prescribes a medication and the time the patient uses the medicine. In past cases, mistakes in prescriptions have been attributed to causes such as:

  • Illegible or misinterpreted handwriting
  • Errors entering patient information into computer systems
  • Selecting the wrong medication from a drop down list
  • Formulation errors
  • Pharmacists ignoring warnings regarding high dosages or drug interactions
  • Interruptions while entering changes on mobile devices
  • Misinterpreted metric measurements
  • Abbreviations interpreted different ways
  • Prescriptions prescribed remotely that are matched with the wrong patient

Because there are so many different formulations for certain medicines, there is a great potential for confusion and it is not uncommon for patients to receive the wrong formulation or the correct formulation with the wrong instructions.

For instance, a medicine can be formulated to be extended release where the dosage is absorbed by the body at a slow and steady rate, or delayed release where the full dose of the medication is absorbed all at once at a certain time after the medication is taken.

These terms are often confused, but the formulations affect the body very differently, so if one is substituted for the other, the effects can be quite serious.

Contacting a Pharmacy/Pharmacist Error Attorney

Doctors who prescribe medication, pharmacies and their employees who dispense medication, and healthcare professionals who oversee the administration of medication all owe a duty of care to every patient.

When one or more of these parties makes a mistake that results in harm to a patient, there are remedies available to help compensate for the harm endured and help deter future mistakes.

An experienced Raleigh Pharmacy/Pharmacist error lawyer can explain the available options for redress and provide guidance through the process of recovery.