Suffering from a serious illness that requires inpatient care is difficult enough. A medication error, unfortunately, can make a bad situation worse.
Medication errors can occur in a variety of settings and for a number of different reasons. The most common that we have seen is the failure of a nurse or staff member to pay attention. This can lead to programming errors or errors in the actual medication administered to the patient.
A REAL WORLD EXAMPLE
John is suffering from a recurrent mouth cancer. He is scheduled to undergo several rounds of chemotherapy.
John and his wife go in for a session. At the end John is supposed to leave with a device which will continue to slowly administer the medicine over the course of the next five days.
The nurse who is responsible for setting the codes on the device is distracted. She had a rough morning and on top of that is running twenty minutes behind schedule. She mistakenly leaves out a number when programming the device.
The device beeps, but these things beep so much that she just presses the button to turn the beeping off.
John goes home, but an hour later the machine starts beeping again. John's wife looks at it and is distraught – the machine is indicating that it is empty. John has been given 5 days worth of drugs in one hour.
The overdose causes John to suffer what is known as a hypoxic-ischemic brain injury. He is rendered unable to speak or communicate and is forced to miss several crucial cancer treatments.
GETTING ANSWERS CAN BE THE HARDEST PART
You might think that after a medication overdose the doctor's office or hospital would be falling over itself to provide you with answers. You would be wrong. Yes, they are very often remorseful – this was a mistake after all – but time and again we have seen that these offices often immediately go into a defensive mode, effectively shutting the door to further communication.
This is where an experienced attorney can help. There are ways to obtain copies of records, copies of policies, records of discipline. These records can be crucial in protecting the rights of the victims, and they can often only be obtained after a lengthy fight.
What damages can I recover?
A victim of a medication error is entitled to recover damages for a number of different things, including:
Pain and suffering from the date of the medication error into the future;
Damages for any associated emotional distress;
Damages for any loss of income associated with the injury;
Damages for the value of any loss of services to the household or guidance to children.
How long do I have to bring a lawsuit?
The statute of limitations (or the amount of time allowed to bring a lawsuit) is generally 2 1/2 years in a case involving medical malpractice. This can sometimes be extended in cases that only involve negligence (this is a technical argument that we do not advice relying on), and in rare situations involving retained foreign objects it may also be extended by what is known as the “discovery rule.”
If you or a family member has been a victim of a medication error give us a call. We are happy to help.
Medication errors can be deadly, and they are preventable. If you or a loved one have suffered from a medication error call us today.