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Medication Errors During Labor and Delivery Can Cause Catastrophic Birth InjuriesPharmacological advances have made pregnancy, labor, and delivery safer and less painful than in decades past. Unfortunately, the risks associated with certain medications are not always fully understood. Improper use of medications can cause serious injury or even death to a mother or an infant. If a doctor or other medical professional’s negligence results in a preventable birth injury, the victim or the victim’s surviving loved ones may have a valid medical malpractice claim. Compensation for past medical bills, future medical care, pain and suffering, and other damages may be available.

Medication Mistakes That Often Lead to Medical Malpractice Claims

Any patient can suffer injury or death from mistakes involving medications or medical procedures; however, pregnant women are especially vulnerable to medical mistakes. The birth process is already very hard on a woman’s body. When doctors and other medical staff do not uphold their duty to provide competent medical care, they put the woman’s life and the life of her unborn child in danger. One of the most egregious types of medical negligence occurs when a pregnant woman is given the wrong type of medication. Doctors, nurses, or other staff may misread the medication label or otherwise become confused and administer the wrong drug. Another serious error occurs when a woman is given an inaccurate dose of a medication.  

Medication Errors Involving Pitocin

When labor is not progressing normally, an infant can be at risk of asphyxia and other dangerous conditions. Consequently, a doctor may choose to use medications to expedite the birth. A synthetic version of the hormone oxytocin is sometimes used to accelerate delivery despite the risks associated with this drug. This medication, often referred to by the brand names Pitocin and Syntocinon, makes the mother’s uterus contract. There is significant debate as to the effectiveness and safety of this medication. If Pitocin is administered incorrectly or at an excessive dose, the mother’s contractions may become too intense and cause a detached placenta or “placental abruption.” If the placenta becomes partially or fully separated from the uterus, the infant will be deprived of oxygen and nutrients. This could lead to fetal brain injuries, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), fetal stroke, stillbirth, and maternal hemorrhaging.

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Can I Sue a Pharmacy for a Prescription Medication Error?When you get a medication prescription from the doctor and have it filled at your local pharmacy, you probably trust the pharmacy staff to do their jobs accurately. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. It is estimated that 1.3 million people are injured by medication mistakes in the United States every year. While some of these errors are minor and do not cause harm to the patient, others result in hospitalization and death. If you or a loved one were the victim of a pharmacy error, a medical malpractice claim may help you recover compensation.

Common Pharmacy Errors

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are responsible for ensuring that patients receive the medications that their doctors have prescribed them. In addition to dispensing medications, they also review prescriptions for accuracy, check for drug interactions, and explain medication directions to patients. When a pharmacy worker makes a mistake during any of these steps, the patient can suffer serious harm. Some of the most common pharmacy errors include:

  • Dispensing the wrong medication or an incorrect dosage of the medication
  • Mislabeling medications
  • Dispensing medication with an incorrect delivery method
  • Failing to provide adequate information about the use of medication
  • Failing to warn the patient about side effects or risks of using the medication
  • Failing to account for potential drug interactions with other medications or allergies
  • Failing to ask about other medications or allergies before dispensing the medication
  • Failing to confirm prescription information with the physician if the prescription is difficult to read or contains inaccurate information

Consequences of Prescription Medication Errors

If a person receives the wrong medication or the wrong dose of a medication, he or she may not realize it until he or she starts experiencing symptoms. Depending on the type of medication and the person’s medical conditions, a medication error can cause the person’s existing medical condition to worsen and may also result in new medical problems. A serious medication error may even be fatal. Pharmacy prescription errors can result in problems that require hospitalization and extensive medical care. Through a pharmacy malpractice claim, a medication error victim may be entitled to compensation for his or her medical expenses, lost income due to missed work, pain and suffering, and more.

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Three Common Medical Errors Every Patient Should be Aware OfWhile medical malpractice is nowhere near a new issue in the healthcare industry, many media reports and study findings within the last few years have surfaced among the general public, bringing attention to seemingly more medical errors in the community than ever before. In recent years, experts from John Hopkins University shared findings from data that spanned over an eight-year period, revealing that more than 250,000 deaths per year have been attributed to medical error in the U.S. Researchers emphasized that a majority of these errors point to systematic errors, such as poorly coordinated care, problems within insurance networks, and the lack of or underuse of proper protocols. Whatever the source responsible for any given medical error, however, thousands of patients have been and continue to be seriously affected by negligence in the medical community.

The Most Common Causes of Medical Malpractice

The medical community is vast, with a variety of different kinds of medical malpractice cases, but these top three forms of medical error are some of the most notorious in the news today: 

  1. Medication errors: An astounding number of reports – more than 100,000 – make their way to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) each year, suspecting pharmacy medication errors. Whether the pharmacy applies an incorrect label on your prescription bottle, fills the wrong medication, or dispenses the wrong dosage on behalf of the doctor’s instructions, medication errors frequently occur, causing all kinds of problems for unsuspecting patients. Many patients are unaware of the error and go on to take the incorrect dose or medication until long after the problem is discovered, or they experience serious side effects that alert them to the fact that something is wrong. One of the best ways to protect yourself from this risk is to research the medication you are prescribed thoroughly and to do before you even pick up your prescription at the pharmacy. Be proactive, discuss the details of your medicine with your doctor, as well as the pharmacist, and do not be afraid to ask questions.
  2. Misdiagnosis: Another error that occurs all too often is the misdiagnosis of a condition. At times, misdiagnosis may not necessarily be a matter of receiving an incorrect diagnosis directly from a doctor, but instead being attributed with an incorrect condition due to the wrong diagnosis code attributed to your record. Faulty communication, both written and verbal, can create serious discrepancies in the documentation of your health care. These kinds of errors can also trickle down into your insurance records, further complicating matters. Protect yourself from misdiagnosis by researching your symptoms, talking about them in-depth with your doctor, taking notes and asking questions, and most of all, not hesitating to seek out another opinion if something does not feel right.
  3. Missed diagnosis: A missed diagnosis all together can be just as dangerous as an incorrect diagnosis given. Whether your doctor diagnosed you with a condition too late or not at all, if you discover what was wrong later on, perhaps under the care of another provider, you may be the victim of faulty medical practice. Being an advocate for your own health is one of your best defenses against these kinds of errors. 

Contact an Orland Park Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you find you have become another medical malpractice statistic and are experiencing symptoms of injury, it is critical to speak with a skilled, knowledgeable DuPage County personal injury lawyer, who can evaluate your case, protect your rights, and advocate for your health and wellbeing. Schedule a free consultation today by calling Schwartz Injury Law at 708-226-9000. 

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Oak Lawn medical malpractice lawyer prescription drug errorMedication side effects are a leading cause of injury and death in children, leading to roughly 200,000 emergency room visits per year. However, before you accuse your child’s physician of medical malpractice, remember that you play an important role in helping to avoid medication errors that could hurt your child.

14.7 Million U.S. Children Are at Risk for Medication Errors

A recent study reported that 20 percent of U.S. children take at least one prescription medication, putting them at risk for dangerous side effects. The more medications a child takes, the greater the risk of drug interactions and adverse events. An estimated 5 percent of all U.S. children regularly take two or more prescription drugs, and roughly 8 percent of them are at risk for major drug interactions that could have serious side effects. 

Teens on Antidepressants Have Greatest Risk for Drug Interactions

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), run under the auspices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), examines 5,000 people per year. A recent review of data collected by this survey found that teenage girls taking antidepressant medications are at the highest risk for drug interactions.

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