Nobody enjoys getting sick. When we do get sick, most people prefer to avoid going to the doctor if possible. Unfortunately, sometimes a visit to the doctor for an illness is necessary. When an illness calls for a trip to see the doctor, people expect the doctor to diagnose their illnesses, prescribe them medications, and send them on their way. In most cases, this is exactly how things go.
However, sometimes after a stop at the pharmacy, a patient will arrive home and begin taking their medication, but not get any better. In some cases, they even get worse. Depending on the illness, there can be many reasons for this failure of procedure. One of the most disappointing and possibly devastating causes of the lack of improvement has to do with the patient having received the wrong prescription.
After discovering you have been taking the wrong medication, the first step you need to take is to determine who is to blame. You may have received the wrong medication because of an error made by your doctor or an error made by the pharmacist. If significant damage was caused by the error, you might want to consult with a lawyer. A qualified lawyer can advise you about whether or not you should file a lawsuit against the responsible party.
When the Doctor Is to Blame
Sometimes receiving the wrong prescription is a minor inconvenience. If your illness wasn’t very severe, and the medication you ended up taking didn’t cause you any direct harm, you will probably simply take an extra few days to recover. While this is certainly a nuisance, it is not something that you are likely to try to bring a lawsuit over.
However, other times, taking the wrong medication can have serious consequences and, in extreme cases, can even result in death. When we go to a doctor, we expect them to take care of us. When the conduct of the doctor leads to further harm, it is absolutely devastating.
A wrong prescription from a doctor can mean many things. A doctor can prescribe the wrong medication because they misdiagnosed your illness. Your doctor could also have prescribed a medication that was right for your condition yet contained an element you were allergic to, which the doctor forgot to check. The doctor could also simply get confused and prescribe a drug other than the one that they meant to prescribe.
Another possibility is that the doctor prescribes the correct medication but at the wrong dosage.
When a doctor’s negligence results in a wrong prescription, you have the right to sue. However, you need to be aware that proving the doctor acted negligently can be very difficult. You will need expert testimony from a doctor with similar credentials to establish what your doctor’s duty of care was in the situation.
You also have to prove that your doctor was the one at fault for the fact that you received the wrong prescription and not the pharmacist.
All of this can be very difficult to prove. One of the biggest challenges will likely be difficulty in gathering evidence. On top of the difficulty of proof, without an airtight case, it is unlikely that a jury or judge will side against the doctor. People trust that doctors are doing their best to help their patients and that most doctors are good and trustworthy when it comes to their jobs.
When the Pharmacist Is at Fault
Sometimes your doctor prescribes the medication correctly, but there is a mix-up at the pharmacy. There are many different ways that a mix-up could occur.
Your pharmacist could get confused about the order from the doctor and give you the wrong medication or wrong dosage as a result. The pharmacist could also be filling multiple prescriptions at the same time and mix up your pills with those of another patient. It is also possible that they have all of the information correct but accidentally fills your prescription with the wrong medication.
As with holding a doctor accountable, the responsibility of proving negligence lies with the patient.
However, proving fault for a wrong prescription from a pharmacist is often easier than proving the fault of a doctor. In many cases, the pill bottle and its contents are enough to show that the pharmacist incorrectly filled your prescription and violated their duty of care.
Always Check All Medication Yourself Before Use
While we put our faith in medical professionals to provide us with the best possible care, it is always best to err on the side of caution. When your doctor prescribes medication to you, make sure to get the name of the medication and the specifics of why they are prescribing it. Doing a simple search on the internet can tell you if the drug is used to help with the things your doctor told you.
You can also quickly check to make sure it does not contain any ingredients to which you are allergic. When you get the prescription filled from the pharmacy, make sure the information on the label and what your pharmacist tells you, match with what your doctor said.
Also, do a quick search of the pill. No two prescription pills are alike. Any letters or numbers on the tablet can help you to confirm that the drug in the bottle is the same as the drug you were prescribed.
A Settlement Is Likely Your Best Path to Compensation
When you do sue a doctor or pharmacist over a wrong prescription, your most likely path to a good outcome is through hiring a lawyer and taking a settlement. Getting a fair shake without a lawyer is next to impossible.
Many people are tempted to take the case to court in hopes of getting more money than they would receive from a settlement, but this is ill-advised. As mentioned, these cases can be difficult to win. Even if your case seems airtight, going to trial is always a risk.
At the same time, your doctor or pharmacist is likely going to be eager to avoid court as well. On top of the inconvenience that can come from a court trial, even if they win they can face a hit to their reputation. A qualified lawyer will almost certainly be able to negotiate a settlement that works for both parties.
As a journalist, Leland D. Bengtson dedicated most of his career to law reporting. He aims to draw in the public and make people more interested in the field. He is active on multiple platforms to increase his outreach to the public. Leland tirelessly covers all types of legal issues, but he has a personal preference for medical malpractice. This is mainly because he witnessed the implications of medical malpractice on a family member.