By Jo Caine. Last Updated 13th July 2023. Can you sue for a medication error? The simple answer is yes. If you can show how a qualified medical practitioner failed in their duty of care and harmed you by delivering incorrect treatment, you could be owed compensation.
All doctors, nurses, GP’s and pharmacists have a legal responsibility to adhere to the generally accepted standards of practice in their field. Failing to meet these standards could be medical negligence. For more information, please call us and our team will be happy to discuss and explain further:
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Select A Section
- What Could Count As A Medication Error?
- Where Could A Medication Error Happen?
- How Do I Show A Breach Of Duty Caused A Medication Error?
- How Medication Error Claims Work
- What Could Your Medication Error Claim Be Worth?
- No Win No Fee Claims For Harmful Medication Errors
A medication error can happen at any point during the prescribing, administration or dispensing of a medication. There are various ways a medication error could happen from prescribing a medication the patient is known to be allergic to or prescribing far too big a dose causing an overdose.
There may also be several groups of healthcare providers involved with one patient, all of whom have the potential to make a medication error. For example:
- A negligent GP could give instructions for the wrong prescription
- A pharmacist could make up the incorrect prescription or give flawed advice
- Doctors can fail to consult notes and prescribe the wrong drug
- Nurses and care home staff can administer the wrong dosage or at the wrong time
- Medication can be overlooked (omission) or an unauthorised substitute drug used
The Yellow Card Scheme, allows patients to report side affects of medication they are taking. It helps to keep track of any side effects people suffer from different medication.
Anyone prescribing drugs must be a qualified health professional and not all groups have the same levels of authority to prescribe or administer certain medications. With this in mind, it’s important to look at where medication errors may occur. According to statistics from the British Medical Journal:
- 54% of medication errors happen at the point of administration
- Prescribing errors account for 1 in 5 mistakes
- In addition to this, dispensing errors account for 16%
A medication error could happen in less obvious ways, for example:
- Shop pharmacy staff could mix up bottles or mislabel your tablets
- Out-patient staff could deliver an intravenous (IV) injection in the wrong location
- A dentist could administer insufficient painkiller, causing you unnecessary suffering
- Care home staff could forget to administer a medication at a certain interval.
Care Home Medication Errors
The BMJ also estimates that medication errors are the highest in care home settings (42%).
With a large group of residents taking multiple medications in some cases, errors have the potential to happen.
What types of medication errors could happen in a care home? Below we have listed potential possibilities for medication errors in a care home:
- Staff shortages may mean the staff are so busy they forget to give out medication
- Resident’s updated notes may be overlooked or forgotten
- Medication is given to the wrong resident
- The medication is administrated in the wrong method
The elderly in care home environments may not have any control over their medication so it is vital that carers and care home staff ensure they receive their medication at the right timely intervals.
All registered health practitioners have a duty of care to their patients. The exact requirements may vary according to the specific area of medicine, but the overall duty is to deliver care to the expected standards of practice. Should a healthcare practitioner fail in this expectation and harm you with a medication error, it could be medical negligence that you can sue for.
In order to pursue a successful compensation claim, it’s necessary to show how the practitioner’s duty of care was actually breached and caused you to be ill. An error alone is not sufficient grounds to make a claim, there must be injury.
So if you are unsure as to whether you have a valid claim for a medication error speak to our team today the number can be found at the bottom of the guide.
You can pull evidence of a medication error together by accessing your medical records and retaining the bottles or packaging of the wrong medicine. You can also request the details of any witnesses to the negligence as they may be needed later on to give a statement.
If you decide to work with a medical negligence lawyer from our panel they will start by arranging a medical assessment with an independent specialist. The report this generates can be used as evidence as it will assess the severity of your injuries and give a detailed prognosis.
Once these details are in place, the solicitor will review the information. They can negotiate with the third party insurance or the defendants legal team on your behalf to reach a settlement.
Calculating the value of a medication error claim uses two heads of damages called ‘general’ and ‘special’. General damages can use the results of your independent medical assessment as a guide for what you could be awarded for pain, suffering, and damage to the quality of your life. Guideline compensation bracket amounts for this are provided by a publication called the Judicial College Guidelines and an excerpt is below:
|Condition||Symptoms||Judicial College Guideline bracket|
|Bowel injuries||Illness or injury that results in double incontinence.||Up to £184,200
|Kidney damage||Serious loss of function or damage to both kidney||£169,400 to £210,400|
|Toxicosis (poisoning)||Severe pain, vomiting, diarrohea, incontinence and need for hospitalisation||£38,430 to £52,500|
|Bladder problems||General recovery but some persisting long term weakness issues||£23,410 to £31,310|
|Brain damage||Good overall recovery but some mood and concentration issues that have the potential to interfere with normal life||£15,320 to £43,060|
|Dermatitis of both hands||Cracking and soreness of the skin, this will affect employment and domestic capability||£13,740 to £19,200|
|Eye injuries||Impairment of a permanent but minor degree creating sensitivity to light, double or blurred vision||£9,110 to £20,980|
|Psychological harm||Moderate types of anxiety or phobic disorder that improve by the time of trial||£5,860 to £19,070|
The important thing to note is that these figures are guides only.
In addition to this, special damages use proof of all the financial consequences of the medication error. You may miss work and see a loss of earnings. Or perhaps you need to pay out for help at home as you recover? You will need documented evidence such as:
- Proof of purchase of essential medicines or treatments not available on the NHS
- Paid or pending invoices related to your recovery
- Travel costs to hospital or work, petrol, and parking
- Wage slips showing loss
As well as calculating costs to you now, a medical negligence expert can help predict future expenses that may be needed. As it’s only possible to make one claim, this can be essential advice.
There are time limits to consider when seeking compensation for a medication error. Generally, the rule is three years and this period starts from either the date of the event or the date that you first became aware of adverse effects (date of knowledge).
These time scales do not apply to minors who have until the date of their 18th birthday before the three-year limitation starts or people who lack the mental capacity to represent themselves.
If you meet the eligibility criteria to make a medication error compensation claim, you may want to work with a solicitor who has experience with this type of case. They could help you gather sufficient evidence to support your claim and could handle negotiations for your compensation settlement.
The solicitors on our panel usually offer their services on a No Win No Fee basis with a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). Under this arrangement, you will not need to pay the solicitor working on your case any upfront or ongoing service fees. You also won’t pay them for their services if your claim fails.
Should your medical negligence claim succeed, your solicitor will deduct a success fee from the compensation awarded to you. This is fee is a small, legally capped percentage.
To learn whether a solicitor from our panel could work on your medication error claim under such an agreement, please don’t hesitate to contact an advisor.
You can reach an advisor via any of the following methods.
Latest and Helpful Articles
Below are some further resources that relate to claims for a medication error:
- Medical negligence compensation FAQ’s
- Advice about how to make a compensation claim against the NHS
- Advice about a compensation claim for a pharmacy error
- Further reading about Care Home Standards
- information on the correct way to store medications
- Details about reporting medication errors through the Yellow Card Scheme