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When a Spoonful of Medicine Can Turn into a Whole Lot of Harm

Police are investigating whether a Pennsylvania nurse mistakenly gave a baby a drug that was intended for the baby’s mother last August. The baby apparently received a pain medication intended for the mother when the nurse put the medication in the wrong intravenous line. The baby developed breathing problems as a result. While police normally aren’t called in for medication errors, they were this time, because the father witnessed the error, but the nurse didn’t report her error to hospital authorities. Unfortunately, incidents like this are not uncommon.

A medication error is defined as an event that usually can be prevented and that causes medication to be used in a manner in which it wasn’t intended. These errors can cause severe injury or death, and the injured patients can often successfully sue for their injuries.

Some typical medication errors are:

  • A doctor prescribing two medications that can cause a dangerous interaction
  • A doctor prescribing the wrong dosage
  • A doctor failing to warn of the drug’s side effects
  • A pharmacy dispensing the wrong drug
  • A pharmacy failing to observe a contraindication
  • A nurse’s failure to properly read the label on the bottle

Medication errors like these often happen because the professionals are in a hurry and don’t take the time to double-check their work. They also occur because hospitals haven’t adopted the latest technology that can catch medication errors before they harm the patient.

At the doctor’s office, patients can protect themselves against medication errors by making sure the doctor actually prescribes the correct drug that was discussed and by double-checking with the doctor that it is the correct dosage for their body weight. At the pharmacy, patients should check to make sure they receive the proper medication and the correct dosage. Patients should also ask the pharmacist to make sure the drug doesn’t interfere with any current medication they are taking. At the hospital, patients can protect themselves by bringing along a family member or friend to serve as an advocate and to question the hospital staff about the medications the patient is receiving.

If a medical professional has injured you because of a medication error, consultation with experienced Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorneys can prove beneficial to your case.

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