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Pennsylvania law has a prescription for medication mistakes

Do you think your medication caused you harm? You are not alone. Do not dismiss that feeling as a side effect of the medication your doctor prescribed. Doctors make mistakes, and your health, or life, could be in jeopardy. Even well-intentioned doctors may sometimes fail to take all of the variables into consideration when prescribing medication.

The potential for errors does not end there, however. Nurses and pharmacists make mistakes, too. People joke about doctors' handwriting being unreadable, but misreading a doctor's orders wreaks just as much havoc on you. A wrong medication, wrong dosage or failure to provide clear instructions might lead to serious or fatal harm.

Some facts about prescription medications

The following facts about prescription drugs shed light on the breadth of the problem:

  • Over 10,000 different medications exist here in the United States.
  • Approximately one in three Americans take no less than five medications each day.
  • Around 700,000 people visit emergency rooms each year due to medication issues.
  • Nearly 100,000 people end up in the hospital every year due to an adverse drug event.

Even hospitalized patients suffer from medication mistakes, which comprise nearly 5 percent of the errors suffered by inpatients.

Are there different types of medication errors?

Yes. Not all medication errors - or adverse drug events - are created equal. From the moment that a doctor grabs his or her prescription pad till you take a medication or someone administers it to you, the potential for errors is there. Medication mistakes fall into one of the following categories:

  • Preventable: Avoidable harm occurred.
  • Ameliorable: Likely unavoidable harm occurred, but someone missed the chance to diminish the damage done.
  • Non-preventable: You suffered harm from known side effects of the medication.
  • Potential: Someone caught the mistake before the medication reached you.

Preventable adverse drug events comprise about half of the errors made with medications, which often constitutes medical malpractice.

How do I know if the harm I suffered resulted from a medical mistake?

The complexity of these cases requires some outside assurance that a mistake occurred. Before making that determination, an attorney conducts an investigation into the events that led to your injuries. A medical professional reviews your medical records, the circumstances surrounding your obtaining the medication and the aftermath.

If the evidence points to the fact that the harm resulted from some failure on the part of a medical professional, a medical malpractice claim might be the next step. Even though many cases settle before trial, an attorney should be prepared to take your case to a judge or jury in order to obtain the compensation you deserve.

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