Lee M. Schwalben, M.D., J.D., LLC
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Medication errors not limited to doctor negligence

When some Louisiana readers think of medication errors, their thoughts may automatically go to doctors and nurses as the ones who make the mistakes. However, doctor negligence is not the only cause of these errors. Pharmacists are as fallible as any other medical professional, and they are just as capable of making serious and even deadly mistakes.

Some pharmacist errors occur because he or she is unable to read a doctor's handwriting. Instead of contacting the physician to verify the medication and/or dosage, they may guess in order to save time. In other cases, the pharmacist might choose the wrong medication even when the bottle it is in displays the correct information. The same thing can happen with dosages.

In yet other cases, a patient could end up with someone else's prescription. Louisiana residents tend to trust their pharmacists to get everything right and might not scrutinize what they are given. Unfortunately, the first indication that a patient has the wrong medication or dosage is that he or she suffers some sort of serious side effect or the medication fails to resolve the condition for which it was prescribed. By this time, the individual's health and life could be compromised.

If you or a loved one was given the wrong medication and/or dosage, and it led to serious illness or death, contacting an attorney as soon as is practicable may be appropriate. A thorough investigation into the incident could determine whether the problem was the result of doctor negligence, pharmacist negligence or the mistake of some other medical staff. Once the parties believed to be responsible are identified, a medical malpractice claim may be warranted.