By Stephen Kane. Last Updated 11th October 2023. Have you been impacted by medical negligence and need to know more about the types of medication errors that can happen? Perhaps you or a loved one were prescribed an incorrect medication that caused unnecessary pain, illness, or injury?
Was it the wrong dose, formulation, or strength? Did the nurse administer it in the wrong place? Perhaps staff were aware of your history of side effects and still used a certain drug? We trust pharmacists and healthcare providers to get it right but if they fail, you can be left with the consequences.
This article will offer you the information and resources to understand medication errors better and how to construct a compensation claim for medical negligence. Find out more right now by:
- Speaking with our expert advisors on 0161 696 9685
- Email or write to us at Advice.co.uk
- Access immediate help through our ‘live support’ option
Select A Section
- The Criteria For Medication Error Claims
- Examples Of Types Of Medication Errors
- What Evidence Is Useful In Medication Error Claims?
- Check What You Can Claim For Different Types Of Medication Errors
- When A No Win No Fee Solicitor Could Help You
In order to have a valid medical negligence claim, you must meet the claiming criteria. You must be able to prove that:
- A medical professional owed a duty of care.
- A breach of this duty occurred.
- You suffered avoidable harm because of the breach.
While you are under the care of a medical practitioner, including a pharmacist, they must provide you with the correct standard of care. This is the duty of care they owe you. If you experience avoidable harm because they failed to adhere to their duty of care, you might be eligible to claim compensation.
There are different medication error types that can happen for a variety of reasons. However, not every error will mean that a medical professional breached their duty of care. For example, if you have an unknown allergy and are administered medication that contains this ingredient you are allergic to, causing you to suffer an allergic reaction, you might not have a valid claim. This is because the medical professional, such as the doctor or pharmacist, would not have been expected to know about the allergy before prescribing or administering the medication.
Additionally, you must start your claim within the time limit set by the Limitation Act 1980. For medical negligence claims, this is typically three years from the date of the incident. However, this could be three years from the date of knowledge. This is the date that you first realised, or would have been expected to realise, that the harm you suffered was caused by medical negligence. There are some exceptions to the time limit.
Please get in touch with our advisors to find out what the exceptions to this time limit are. They can also answer any questions you may have about medication error claims.
Firstly, it’s important to understand what types of medical errors there are and where they could happen. The healthcare sector has a duty of care to patients to ensure the service they receive is correct. There are generally accepted standards of practice that all pharmacists, GP’s, nurses, and doctors must adhere to. Should they fall below this standard in a way that causes you harm, they could be liable for medical or clinical negligence.
What could be considered a medication error:
- Administering the wrong prescription
- Failing to advise correctly on how to take a medication
- Giving wrong dosage advice
- Substituting a medication for an alternative or branded version
- Omitting a medication
- Placing an IV (intravenous) tube in the wrong site
- Delivering care in an unrecognised or sub-standard way
An example could be a doctor failing to check patient notes and prescribing penicillin even though the patient has a known allergy to it. Or it could be administering the drug in the incorrect part of the body.
Medication errors that occur may not all be caused by medical negligence. A valid claim for medical negligence will involve proving that the practitioner was negligent when the prescription error occurred.
It is possible to report issues with your medical care to a regulatory body called the Care Quality Commission as well as complain to the NHS directly if you received sub-standard care or incorrect medication treatment and advice.
Statistics On Medication Errors
The British Medical Journal reported statistics relating to medication errors. Based on findings, it has been estimated that more than 237 million medication errors are made every year in England:
- 54% of medication errors happen at the point of administration.
- 21% of medication errors or 1 in 5 happen at the point of prescribing.
- Dispensing errors have a percentage of 16%
In primary care errors are at their lowest but due to the size of the area account for 1 in 10 of the medication errors. Error issues are at the highest at 42% in care homes. About1 in 5 medication errors happen at a hospital environment. However 3 in 4 medication errors are considered to be minor.
Source : https://www.bmj.com/company/newsroom/237-million-medication-errors-made-every-year-in-england/
Various healthcare staff are able to prescribe medication in a hospital or out patent setting but they must be qualified health professionals. Such as a:
- Hospital doctor
- Nurses in nursing homes
- Nurse practitioner
If writing or imputing prescriptions is part of their daily duties, it’s essential that the healthcare professionals listed above do so carefully. Without proper attention a medication error could occur leaving you harmed as a consequence. Furthermore, there are several points through the prescription process where a mistake could happen, such as :
- Imputing the wrong prescription details into the computer
- Making up the prescription incorrectly in the pharmacy
- Putting too much or too little in the medication
- Confusing or substituting medications
- Returning the prescription to the wrong patient
- Failing to explain clearly to the patient how and when to take the medicine
Dispensing of medication usually happens at the pharmacy or when medication is being dispensed at a hospital or nursing home. Pharmacists have a duty of care as do doctors and nurses not to cause avoidable harm to their patients.
Errors could occur in dispensing at a pharmacy if the dispensing pharmacist mixes up two prescriptions and the patients receive the wrong medication. Or it could happen if the pharmacist puts together an adult dosage of a medication for a child. Confusing medication that has a similar name or prescribing the wrong dose are also recognised mistakes.
Administration errors could happen at a hospital, in a nursing home or when patients are visited in the community by a doctor or nurse. If the medication is administered in the wrong way, too much is given or the wrong medication is administered altogether then the patient’s health could deteriorate or they could suffer an entirely new illness.
To make a successful medical negligence claim for a medication error, you’ll need evidence that can support your case meets the eligibility criteria. If you are being supported by a solicitor who has previous experience in handling cases involving different types of medication errors, then they could assist with gathering the evidence you need.
Evidence for medication error claims may include the following:
- A copy of your prescription
- The packaging that your medication came in which can offer information on the brand, dosage, and instructions you were given
- Your medical records, which can detail the medications you were given, the dosages, and when
- The contact details of witnesses who attended appointments with you, which allows a professional to take their statements at a later date
For more advice on gathering evidence for a medication error claim, you can contact our advisors for free on the phone or online today. They can offer a free consultation of your claim, and may be able to connect you with a solicitor from our panel.
Successful medical negligence claims are often made up of general damages and special damages. To compensate for the suffering caused by medical negligence general damages will be used to award compensation. Financial loss associated with medical negligence will be covered by special damages.
The table below has compensation brackets taken from guidelines by the Judicial College. The brackets amounts are derived from settlements that have been awarded in court cases. The table below illustrates:
|Judicial College Guideline Award Bracket
|Damage or loss of both kidneys
|Loss of function in one kidney only
|Non-Traumatic Injury (b) (i)
|Vomiting. diarrhoea, need for hospital admission
|Less Severe (d)
|£15,320 to £43,060
|An award that reflects some poor concentration and memory which may affect lifestyle, social activities and work prospects.
|Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
|£8,180 to £23,150
|Patient has mostly recovered with only minor persisting trauma issues
|£9,110 to £20,980
|Light sensitivity, double vision and minor but permanent damage
|£5,860 to £19,070
|Mental ill health reaction causing a wide range of mental health issues. But there will be signs of improvement and prognosis will be positive.
|£1,710 to £3,950
|Irritation, rashes or itching that heal within a few months
Please note: these amounts are guideline figures and not guaranteed.
Special Damages In Medication Error Claims
Special damages are the next head of compensation that can be calculated and require documented proof to show how you suffered financially after any type of medication error. For example, you may have experienced:
- A loss in earnings or income
- Travel expenses
- The cost of help at home with domestic issues
- Adaptations to your home or car
- The costs of additional therapeutic or rehabilitation needs
It can be possible to present all these expenses as part of your medical negligence compensation claim. Find out what other amounts you could claim back by getting in touch with our team.
Anyone can represent themselves in a claim for medical negligence compensation. But it’s important to remember that cases such as this can become complex and require close attention. As you recover from your illness, a solicitor working under a No Win No Fee agreement could help.
Arrangements such as this (also called Conditional Fee Agreements) mean that a medical negligence expert can take up your case at no initial fee to you or any as the case moves ahead. If your case wins they require a maximum of 25% as their fee. Should your case fail, there is nothing to pay your solicitors under an arrangement like this.
Discover more about how a legal service such as this could benefit you today in one simple phone call.
- Speak with our expert advisors on 0161 696 9685
- Email or write to us at Advice.co.uk
- Access help through our ‘live support’ option
Find Out More About Medication Error Claims
Please access the further resources below for more related information:
- More information about claiming after a pharmacy prescription error
- Claiming after GP negligence
- Other medical negligence circumstances
- A case study guide for a £25,000 compensation payout for an injury caused by an overdose and advice on making a medical negligence claim.
- Details about the NHS Resolution
- How to store your medication properly
- Lastly, details on how to order repeat prescriptions from the NHS