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medication error malpractice

Medication Error Malpractice

medication error malpractice

What Is a Medication Error?

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a medication error is “any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient, or consumer.” Such errors are among the most common causes of medical malpractice injuries and deaths in the country, harming more than 1.5 million Americans each year. In fact, these errors happen so frequently that the cost of treating medication-related injuries reaches $3.5 billion annually — a figure that doesn’t even account for a patient’s lost wages or additional medical costs.

Unfortunately, medication errors can happen at any stage of your treatment — including at home — and it’s often the most common medications that carry the greatest risks. For example, insulin is used by more than 6 million diabetes sufferers in the nation, yet it remains the most common prescription associated with medication errors. Pain relievers like morphine, codeine, and Vicodin also carry a high risk of medication errors — especially overdoses — in hospitals and in patients’ homes.

Vitamins and over-the-counter medications found in most medicine cabinets can also contribute to a lethal medication error. Failure to inform you of the risks of a prescription can have lethal consequences at home. Neglecting to explain a medication’s contraindications — such as the fatal hemorrhage risk of mixing blood thinners like Heparin with a pain reliever like Advil — is just one example of a medication error that may be easily overlooked by a hurried doctor.

When it comes to medication errors, even the best-case scenarios are grim. The smallest mistake — like missing a decimal point on a prescription’s dosage — can cause permanent damage or even death. Other consequences of medication errors can include long-term disability, astronomical medical bills, and a diminished quality of life.

Medication Error Cases in Arizona

Medical malpractice cases are difficult to file in any state, but in Arizona, these difficulties are compounded by laws intended to reduce so-called frivolous lawsuits. When you file a medical malpractice case in Arizona, the filer must certify “whether or not expert opinion testimony is necessary to prove the health care professional’s standard of care or liability for the claim.” In layman’s terms, unless the error is glaringly obvious, the burden falls on the injured party to hire an expert witness who can tell the judge what good care should look like and prove that the defendant violated this standard of care.

Your expert witness can’t be just any doctor, however. The expert witness must be actively practicing in the defendant’s field or employed as a professor of medicine in the defendant’s specialty. Finding such an expert can be confusing, time-consuming, and emotionally draining for a plaintiff, who may still be suffering from the physical and financial effects of the medication error that started the case to begin with. Even with an expert at hand, you still have to contend with the complicated issues of contributory negligence and joint or severable liability.

Since there is no monetary limit in medical malpractice claims, doctors and hospitals do everything in their power to lessen their accountability. With so much at stake, you can be sure that the defendant in your case will have a retinue of skilled attorneys on hand to protect them. It’s only right that you, the injured party, should receive the same standard of legal aid.

The disturbing truth is that medication errors are often not reported to the patient or family members, especially in a hospital setting. In fact, a study released in 2012 found that families were informed of a medication error in less than 2 percent of hospital cases. If you suspect a medication error has been made, it’s essential to consult professional legal counsel, which can help you find out the truth.

At the Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier, we understand the unique difficulties that victims of medication errors face. Our compassionate Flagstaff malpractice attorneys have helped countless plaintiffs like you recover medical costs and lost wages to help get their lives back to normal. While no settlement amount can reverse the consequences of a medication error, our medical malpractice lawyers will do everything possible to help you receive the compensation that is rightfully yours.

Common Causes of Medication Error Malpractice:

  • Drug name confusion
  • Prescription labeling errors
  • Faulty medication pumps
  • Drug interactions
  • Misinterpreted handwriting on prescriptions
  • Dosage errors
  • Incorrect administration methods
  • Compound mixing errors
  • Incorrect medication substitutions
  • Contaminated medical equipment
  • Failure to prescribe necessary medication
  • Misleading directions for use
  • Failure to disclose contraindications
  • Failure to disclose side effects
Stethoscope & Gavel

The Basics of Medical Malpractice and Negligence

Medical malpractice is defined as improper, unskilled, or negligent treatment of a patient by a medical professional. Negligence is defined as a failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in like circumstances. It is important to know and understand what these terms mean for anyone who comes in contact with medical professionals. As a patient, it is your responsibility to make sure you are aware of your rights when dealing with medical professionals.

What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?

Stethoscope & Gavel

Medical malpractice occurs when errors are made in the treatment of a patient. This can occur for many reasons, but some of the primary ones are as follows:

  • A doctor making an incorrect decision, either intentionally or unintentionally.
  • A medical professional practicing medicine outside of his or her field.
  • Failure to obtain the proper consent required by law.
  • Negligent treatment of a patient.

When any of these situations arise, the patient has the legal right to sue the appropriate medical professionals. In Arizona, according to the statute of limitations, a patient has two years after the cause of action accrues to file a medical malpractice case. Arizona does not limit the amount awarded for recovery of damages, as it is unconstitutional according to the state constitution.

What Is Negligence According to Arizona Law?

Negligence is a form of medical malpractice. It occurs when a doctor does not care for a patient in the way he or she should. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Expectations of a patient are two-fold: Doctors and hospitals are expected to provide medical treatment with all the knowledge and skill at their command, and secondly, they will not do anything to harm the patient in any manner either because of their negligence, carelessness, or reckless attitude of their staff.” When one of these expectations is not being met, it is possible that negligence has occurred. Negligence cannot be committed by a careful person who is being mindful and thoughtful in their duties.

One way a doctor can be guilty of negligence is failing to obtain the proper consent. Patients are required to give informed consent before procedures are performed unless they are not able to do so. In that case, usually a family member or delegated person is able to provide consent for the individual. In emergency situations when no one is available to provide consent, there is implied consent to save a person’s life unless the patient has documentation indicating other instructions, such as a DNR.

In conclusion, it is important to keep yourself well-informed as a patient. Knowing what to expect from your doctor and understanding his recommendation is not just important, it is your right in the state of Arizona. Staying educated and informed will ensure that you are getting the best care possible and that you have not fallen victim to medical malpractice.

Doctors Involved in Medical Malpractice

Arizona Medical Malpractice Personal Injury Explanation

Doctors Involved in Medical Malpractice

Doctors are entrusted with peoples lives every day. But what happens when a doctor fails to perform his duties in accordance with his position and a patient is injured, or worse, dies?

How do you improve patient safety when tens of thousands of people die each year as a result of medical malpractice or medical negligence?

The New York Times wrote an article about this very question.

Most people believe that the best way to reduce malpractice and negligence lawsuits is to analyze information about past cases and try to improve future medical care. However, many believe that the threat of being sued has caused medical providers to not be willing to share case information that may identify mistakes.

New studies have shown that medical-related lawsuits are actually helping patient safety and influencing how hospitals are responding whenever a patient is injured or dies at the hand of their physician.

How are Medical Facilities in Arizona Responding to Malpractice Lawsuits?

Many hospitals are apologizing when errors occur, and are more willing to discuss and learn from errors with hospital staff. Hospitals have also found that disclosing errors to patients and offering early settlements reduces the costs and frequency of litigation. Hospitals are also integrating information from lawsuits into patient safety efforts. Hospitals are analyzing lawsuit data which is proving useful to identify and address errors. The truth is that lawsuits can reveal previously unknown incidents of medical errors and errors that have not been reported by medical providers. Thus litigation is serving as an important teaching tool for our hospitals concerning patient safety.

Medical malpractice cases are not easy to file and are very costly. Therefore, many lawsuits are not filed – so these errors continue to happen. In fact, our legislatures are making it even harder to file malpractice suits. One example is the requirement under A.R.S. § 12-2603 that requires a party to certify at the time a case is filed “whether or not expert opinion testimony is necessary to prove the health care professionals standard of care or liability for the claim.” This statute becomes problematic because expert testimony is expensive and may require a Plaintiff to hire an expert on the onset of new cases. The purpose of this law is to curtail the filing of frivolous lawsuits against health care professionals and the filing of frivolous non-party at fault designations by health care professionals.

Even though malpractice lawsuits have helped hospitals and doctors learn from others mistakes, our legislatures are compromising patient safety efforts. So before you cringe your teeth the next time you hear that a case of this nature has been filed, know that this lawsuit may be improving the way you will be treated as a patient in a hospital.

Why Trust Gonzales & Poirier with Your Malpractice Case?

The lawyers at Gonzales & Poirier have successfully represented hundreds of clients. Each case is handled with extraordinary care. The client’s interests are priority, not the lawyers. We almost always cut our fee to make sure you receive as much money as possible in any settlement. Sure there are times that our firm will not reduce our fees, but these are cases where we expend hundreds of hours of attorney time. Otherwise, we want you to have a good experience. Our firm handles all types of accident cases such as automobile and motorcycle accidents, truck and bus accidents, slip & fall, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and other types of personal injury cases. We handle cases in Flagstaff, Holbrook, Winslow, Williams, Sedona, Cottonwood, Prescott and other parts of the State. Please call us today if you have any questions at (855) 774-5400.

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