Think about the average hospital with countless patients receiving care at the same time. There are only so many nurses and doctors to go around, and because hospitals are always trying to save money, they’re often pushing themselves to get more done with fewer people. As they push the limit of what’s possible in this regard, serious errors and mistakes can occur.
One problem that is common in hospitals involves giving the wrong medication to patients. In most cases, this isn’t fatal or injurious and nurses or doctors resolve the medication mistake soon enough. In some cases, however, a potentially dangerous medication is given to the wrong person — perhaps to a patient with an allergy or to a patient who should never take the drug due to the possibility of a negative reaction.
Medication errors can happen as a result of a doctor’s bad handwriting. It could also happen after one patient is confused with another patient and two prescriptions get flip-flopped. They can also happen when a physician or pharmacist in the hospital negligently prescribes the wrong drug to a patient who will have an adverse reaction.
In terms of who is negligent and who is responsible for medication errors, the responsibility usually falls on the doctor or pharmacist. Nurses don’t have an obligation to analyze whether a specific patient could have a bad effect from a specific drug. That being said, if a nurse observes a glaring error, he or she should take action to question the prescription before administering it to the patient.
Medication errors cause an estimated 7,000 patient deaths each year. If you suspect that you or your loved one has been harmed by a medication error, learn more about your legal rights and options now.