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When Medication Errors Cause Harm

prescriptions drugs

We trust medical personnel to take sensible, well-informed actions as they care for patients, and most of the time that is exactly what happens.  But sometimes mistakes are made.  When those errors have a significant impact on the wellbeing of the patient, it may be time to consult with a Kissimmee medical malpractice attorney.

More Common than you Think

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that over 100,000 complaints related to suspected errors are received annually. Estimates of roughly 1.5 million individuals are harmed by these errors.  How do these errors occur?

Close-sounding Names

In some instances, medications have similar names, but produce significantly different results.  For example, one case in the news involves the administration of the drug pegfilgrastim instead of the proper medicine, filgrastim. The latter medication may be injected on a daily basis, while the former can lead to severe injury and death if taken for extended periods.  In this case, the patient died after being administered the drug for 11 consecutive days.


In some situations, care providers make mistakes because they simply aren’t attending to the details.  One such case involves a nurse who typed in VE in a dispensing cabinet’s keyboard, and chose the first medication that came up.  That resulted in the administrations of Vecuronium, a paralytic anesthetic, rather than the proper medication, Versed, which is merely a sedative.  The patient did not survive the error.

Misplaced Prescriptions

In rare instances, prescriptions for one patient may be misplaced in another patient’s file, causing harm to both the patient receiving medicine that is not called for, and to the patient who is not being given prescribed medications.  Such was the case when a nursing home resident died after a transcription error went unnoticed for nine days, and the patient was not given necessary medication to address heart issues.

Dosage Issues

Yet another type of error that harms patients relates to under- or over dosing.  A case in point involves a patient who was administered up to 8,000 times the prescribed dose by an inexperienced nurse.  Sadly, the error cost the patient his life.

A Serious Problem

Whether medication errors occur due to human error or systemic problems, the outcomes can still be devastating.  Physical, emotional, and financial consequences of these mistakes can be severe and long term.  Something that adds to the distress of this kind of situation is the fact that these errors are generally preventable.  Patients in hospital and nursing home settings, in particular, often put their trust fully in their caregivers, expecting the correct medications to be administered at the correct dosage.  But regardless of the location, when medication issues lead to serious outcomes, someone needs to be held accountable. At the Salazar & Kelly Law Group, P.A., our medical malpractice team is dedicated to just that.  If you’ve been the victim of a medication error, contact us in Kissimmee to discuss the possibilities.  The initial consultation is free and confidential.


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