By Lewis Hendrix. Last Updated 9th February 2023. Medical professionals such as doctors and pharmacists have a duty of care to try and ensure their patient’s safety. In many cases, patients receive a good level of care and are given medication that helps them to recover. In the worst cases, being given the wrong medication can be fatal. If you’re managing the estate of somebody whose death was caused by the wrong medication, this guide will explain what you can claim for, who might be liable and how much compensation you could be entitled to.
If you’re considering beginning a claim, then why not give us a call for a no-obligation assessment and free legal advice? If your claim is valid, we could introduce you to one of our No Win, No fee solicitors who’ll represent you and try to ensure you receive the correct amount of compensation. To start your claim today, please call 0800 073 8801 and speak with a member of our team. Alternatively, to find out more about claiming following a death caused by a medication error, please continue reading.
Select A Section
- A Guide On Making A Claim For A Death Caused By The Wrong Medication
- What Is A Fatal Medication Error?
- Causes Of Fatal Medication Errors
- Could I Claim For A Death Caused By The Wrong Medication?
- How Commonly Is The Wrong Medication Given In The UK?
- Claims Against A Pharmacy For A Death Caused By The Wrong Medication
- Claims Against A GP For A Death Caused By The Wrong Medication
- Claims Against A Hospital For A Death Caused By The Wrong Medication
- Wrong Medication Death – Compensation Calculator
- Additional Damages Which May Be Claimed
- Death Caused By Medical Negligence – Seek No Win No Fee Legal Help Today
- Related Information
A Guide On Making A Claim For A Death Caused By The Wrong Medication
We understand how difficult it will be to discuss the death of a loved one with a stranger. That’s why our advisors will provide support and free advice if you decide to call us and discuss what’s happened. In this guide we’ll explain what you can claim compensation for and how much you might be entitled to. If you go on to make a claim, one of our specialist medical negligence solicitors will work hard to try and ensure you receive the correct amount of compensation.
Trying to prove wrong medication negligence can be tricky and require complex medical evidence to support a claim. That’s why we advise you to begin as soon as possible. There is a 3-year time limit for claiming, which is the same as the personal injury claims time limit. While that might seem like a long time, your solicitor will have to carry out a number of tasks prior to submitting the claim. Each of these tasks takes time, so the more time you allow, the better. Our solicitors will work as efficiently as possible to try and ensure your claim is as swift as possible.
Claims for a death caused by the wrong medication might be made against individual medical professionals, NHS trusts, pharmacies, hospitals or clinical commissioning groups. Whoever the claim is against, our solicitors will handle everything for you including all communications with the defendant’s representatives. Any complex legal jargon will be explained along the way and you’ll receive regular updates as the case progresses.
When you’ve finished reading this guide, do please get in touch if you have any further questions. You can call the number at the top of the screen to begin your claim or simply to ask for advice on the claims process.
What Is A Fatal Medication Error?
When claiming for medical negligence compensation, you need to be able to demonstrate that:
- The patient was owed a duty of care (which is almost always true when being treated by a medical professional).
- That the medical professional was negligent and provided treatment below what could be expected of a competent professional.
- And that the patient suffered as a result of the negligence.
The last point is known as causation and can be something a defendant might contest. When claiming for the death of a patient, you’d need to prove that the medication error was the direct cause of death and nothing else. Again, this can be complex and why we advise you to have a medical negligence specialist representing you. Our solicitors have the knowledge and access to medical specialists to help prove the cause of death and counter any arguments made by the defendant’s legal team.
Causes Of Fatal Medication Errors
There are many different ways that medication errors can occur. These include:
- Being given the wrong drug.
- Receiving the wrong dosage.
- Having the wrong medication administered during treatment.
- Prescription errors.
- Receiving somebody else’s prescription.
- When the medication has the wrong instructions printed on it.
- Being given out of date medication.
In some cases, any of the mistakes listed above might not lead to any suffering at all. However, if a death is caused by an adverse or allergic drug reaction, then a compensation claim might be possible. Furthermore, you might be able to claim if your loved one died because they weren’t given the medication that was prescribed to treat an illness. If you have any questions or are unsure whether you are eligible to claim, please call and speak with a member of our team.
Could I Claim For A Death Caused By The Wrong Medication?
In terms of who can claim compensation following a wrongful death, there are 3 main legal entities. These are:
- Anyone who was financially dependant on the deceased such as spouse, partners and children. For instance, if the victim was the main earner for the family, then their partner and children could claim for any income that has been lost.
- The estate of the victim. The executor of the will could claim for loss of amenity (pain and suffering) as well as special damages on behalf of the deceased. We’ll cover this in greater detail later on.
- Family members who weren’t dependant but have suffered hardship in other ways as a result of the death.
How Commonly Is The Wrong Medication Given In The UK?
You might believe that medication errors are rare in the UK, but according to an NHS article, 1 in 20 prescriptions has an error. While not all were deemed dangerous, it’s still quite a high figure and led to authors of the report recommending better training for GPs and pharmacists.
The report which the article was based on looked at prescribing errors and monitoring errors. It took place in 15 GP surgeries in 3 different areas that were deemed representative of the country. A 2% sample of patients were taken, and their medical records and prescriptions were reviewed. In total, 6,048 prescriptions were reviewed by a panel of two GPs, two pharmacists and a clinical pharmacologist.
After reviewing the data with statistical software, the results found that:
- 1 in 20 prescription items contained a monitoring or prescribing error.
- One in eight patients received a prescription containing an error.
- 11% contained incorrect information on the timing of doses.
- 18% contained strength or dosage errors.
- 30% had incomplete information on the prescription.
- Of all the errors, 4% were deemed severe, 54% moderate and 42% were minor.
After discussions with focus groups and GPs, the report suggested that the underlying causes of the mistakes were:
- Time pressure on GPs and also that they were frequently interrupted.
- Inadequate GP training on safe prescribing.
- Difficulties using the GP computer systems which led to the wrong drug or dose being selected from a list.
- A lack of robust systems to make sure patients received the required blood tests.
Following the study, the General Medical Council suggested that GP training should be improved. They also recommended that procedures be improved in this area with prescription audits being undertaken.
Claims Against A Pharmacy For A Death Caused By The Wrong Medication
Pharmacists provide a key role in the treatment of patients. Whether they’re based in GP surgeries, hospitals or on the high street, it’s essential that they manage the dispensing of medication properly. If they don’t, and the wrong medication is given, the patient could suffer and in the worst cases die because of the mistake.
Here are some types of pharmacy error which could cause a patient to suffer:
- Dispensing the wrong medication because it looks similar or has a similar name to the one prescribed.
- Giving the wrong dosage of medication.
- Providing the patient without of date medication.
- Giving the patient somebody else’s prescription.
- Or where the instructions printed on the medication is incorrect.
We could help you claim against a pharmacy who’s dispensed the wrong medication. Please speak to a specialist advisor for more information or read our guide on pharmacy negligence here.
Claims Against A GP For A Death Caused By The Wrong Medication
GPs have a duty of care towards their patient’s safety. In many cases they’re able to conduct an assessment, diagnose an illness and plan a course of treatment all within a 10-minute appointment.
Here are some mistakes that a GP could make which might mean the wrong medication is provided:
- Prescribing something that the patient is known to be allergic to.
- Not checking other medications that the patient is taking for adverse reactions.
- Misdiagnosing a condition which means the medication they provide is incorrect.
For more information, please read our GP negligence guide here.
Claims Against A Hospital For A Death Caused By The Wrong Medication
While hospitals can be very busy places, all medical professionals within them are duty-bound to try and ensure patients receive the correct treatment. This includes following the correct procedures as well as using the right medication for the patient’s condition.
Compensation could be claimed if negligence in a hospital led to your loved one dying because they received the wrong medication during treatment. This could happen if the wrong medication is prescribed, dispensed or administered.
Scenarios, where the incorrect medicine might be given, include:
- Where the doctor fails to check for any allergies before prescribing.
- If a nurse or doctor administers the incorrect drug.
- When the wrong dosage of medicine is given.
- If you are given the wrong medication when you collect it from the hospital pharmacy.
If your loved one has died as a result of receiving the wrong medication whilst in hospital, please speak to an advisor about your options. For further information, you could read our guide on claims for hospital negligence.
Wrong Medication Death – Compensation Calculator
In this section, we’re going to look at the amount of compensation that could be claimed following a death caused by the wrong prescription of medicine. In the table below, which provides similar information to a personal injury claims calculator, you’ll find amounts that could be paid for pain and suffering prior to death. Although we’ve provided these figures, it’s important to state that every claim is different. Therefore, for a more personalised compensation estimate, we’d advise you to speak with an advisor.
|£12,540 to £23,810
|Where the victim is fully aware of their suffering for a short period followed by varying levels of consciousness prior to death in around 2 weeks to 3 months.
|£10,510 to £10,670
|A period of excruciating pain but where the victim become unconscious after around 3 hours and passes away 2 weeks later.
|£3,760 to £4,390
|Where the patient is immediately unconscious and death occurs around six weeks later.
|£1,370 to £2,790
|Where the patient becomes immediately unconscious and dies within a week.
|This category is for fear of death
The figures are taken from the Judicial College Guidelines which is a legal document used by solicitors and insurers to determine compensation amounts. It’s important that the level of suffering is proven by your solicitor, otherwise, the amount of compensation paid might be too low. Our solicitors can use expert medical witnesses to assess medical records and provide reports on the extent of any suffering.
Remember, this is the compensation that could be paid to the victim’s estate. The compensation a loved one could claim is separate to this and was discussed earlier in the guide. For free advice on claiming for death caused by the wrong medication, please call today.
Additional Damages Which May Be Claimed
When claiming for wrongful death, there are different heads of loss that a solicitor can claim for. In the previous section, we covered general damages which are designed cover the pain, suffering and loss of amenity caused to the victim prior to their death. Furthermore, a solicitor can ask for special damages to be paid. These are compensation amounts designed to cover any financial costs caused by the medication error. There are many different special damages that could be claimed including:
- Care Costs.
If your loved one had to be cared for following the medical negligence that led to their death, you could ask any costs to be paid back.
- Medical Expenses.
While your loved one was ill, if they had to pay out for any form of medication or treatment, these costs could be claimed back. This could include the cost of prescription medication.
- Travelling Costs.
If there was any additional travelling caused by the medical negligence, then fuel, parking and other travel-related costs could be claimed. This could include trips to a hospital, GP surgery or pharmacy.
- Lost Income.
While the patient was ill, if they were unable to attend work, then the claim could include any lost income or benefits. This could be because they were self-employed or because their employer didn’t pay full sick pay.
These special damages would be claimed for on behalf of the estate of the victim. To help prove the amounts involved, where possible you should try to provide evidence to support the claim. This could include wage slips, receipts or bank statements. Your solicitor will explain what can be claimed for and what evidence you’ll need to supply in each case.
If you are claiming for fatal medical negligence, our expert solicitors could help you on a No Win No Fee basis. As part of the arrangement, they could offer you a type of No Win No Fee contract known as a Conditional Fee Agreement. This means you typically won’t have to pay your solicitor upfront, whilst ongoing fees are also usually covered.
No Win No Fee solicitors will not expect you to pay them for their work if they don’t help you successfully settle your medical negligence claim. However, they’ll take a success fee from your compensation if your claim does succeed. The fee they take is capped by law to prevent any excess charges.
Get in touch at any time for a free consultation. Following on from this, we could potentially connect you with one of our specialist solicitors and they can help you on a No Win No Fee basis. They can help you whether you are claiming compensation for a death caused by medication, or if you have been given the wrong medication and suffered harm.
Below are a few ways you can contact us:
- Ring our 24/7 advice line on 0800 073 8801
- Pop up to an advisor using our free online chat service
- Request a call back using our start a claim form
Death caused by the wrong medication – FAQs
Can I sue if my partner died because of the wrong medication?
If a loved one has died after being given the wrong medication, you could begin a compensation claim. This would usually be in two parts. The first part, on behalf of your loved one’s estate, would cover any pain, suffering or loss of amenity the medication caused before their death. If you depended financially on the deceased, you could also make a claim for your financial suffering too.
How long do I have to make my claim?
When somebody dies because of somebody else’s negligence, and you decide to claim compensation, you will need to abide by the time limits. This will usually be a 3-year period from the date of death.
How long will the claim take to process?
The amount of time a compensation claim relating to somebody’s avoidable death will vary from case to case. Where liability is admitted by the defendant early in the claims process, a settlement amount may be agreed upon within a year. Where liability is contested, the process will take longer.
You’ve now come to the end of this guide about claiming for a death because the wrong medication was given. In this final section, we’ve provided some links to resources that you may find useful. Please feel free to get in touch if there is any more information you require.
The General Pharmaceutical Council – The organisation that regulations pharmacy technicians, pharmacies and pharmacists in Great Britain.
NHS Service Finder – A useful tool to help locate GP surgeries, hospitals and pharmacy services in your area.
NHS Medication List – This list provides information on each drug available from the NHS including any possible side effects and drug conflicts.
Wrongful Death Compensation – A guide that provides example compensation amounts for death by negligence cases.
Pharmacy Negligence Claims – This article looks at claiming compensation for negligence by a pharmacy including where the wrong medication caused a death.
Hospital Negligence Claims – Finally, this guide looks at when you could claim if the wrong medication, given in a hospital, causes any form of suffering.
Thank you for reading about how to claim for death caused by the wrong medication. If you would like us to assess your claim for free, please call our team today.
Article by BH
Edited by MM.