By Jo Anderson. Last Updated 30th January 2024. Taking medicine is important in helping us get better. We trust healthcare professionals to prescribe the right medication and dosage. However, mistakes can and do happen, and that’s why we put this guide together to explore what to do if the wrong medication is given to a patient.
If you suffer an illness because of that medication error, you could be entitled to compensation.
In this guide, we explore the steps you can take to make a claim and how our No Win No Fee medical negligence solicitors can help you.
If you’d like to enquire about making a claim, you can do so for free and we’re open 24/7. You can speak with us now by:
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- I Was Given The Wrong Medication As A Patient, Can I Claim?
- How Could The Wrong Medication Be Given To A Patient?
- What Could Happen If The Wrong Medication Is Given To A Patient?
- How Long Do I Have To Claim For Harm Caused By Wrong Medication?
- Medical Negligence Compensation Payouts In Wrong Medication Claims
- No Win No Fee Agreements And Wrong Medication Compensation Claims
- Learn More About Medication Error Claims
If you’ve been given the wrong medication, you might be wondering if you can make a medical negligence claim. The first step in establishing whether you are eligible for compensation is identifying whether you were owed a duty of care.
All medical professionals, including pharmacists and doctors, owe you a duty of care. This means that they need to provide you with the correct standard of care. If their care falls below this standard and you suffer avoidable harm as a result, you could be eligible to make a medical negligence claim.
To form the basis of a valid medication error claim, you must prove that:
- You were owed a duty of care
- The medical professional treating you breached this duty
- You suffered avoidable harm as a result
Not all medication errors result from medical negligence. For example, if you do not know you are allergic to a certain medication, you may not be able to claim for an allergic reaction you had, as your doctor would not necessarily have breached their duty of care.
To learn more about claiming compensation for avoidable harm caused by incorrect medication, please contact an advisor. Or, read on to get more information on the steps to take if the wrong medication was given to you as a patient.
There are many stages in the process of prescribing medication to a patient at which a mistake could possibly occur, resulting in health issues for the patient. Some of the types of mistakes that could lead to a medication error include:
- Admin errors
- Transcription errors. There is an old stereotype of doctors having poor handwriting, but ensuring that their notes and prescription forms are readable is no laughing matter. A prescription form in illegible or unclear handwriting could lead to a patient receiving the wrong medication.
- Dispensing errors, a pharmacist might make a mistake when giving the patient the medication, by giving them the wrong container or a prescription containing the wrong amount or type of medication.
- Prescription errors. It is possible that through medical negligence, a doctor could give a patient a prescription which is inappropriate or potentially harmful to the patient.
Any one of these circumstances could happen through simple human error; however, doctors and pharmacists have a duty of care to ensure that these mistakes never occur. If a mistake like one of these has resulted in you receiving the wrong medication and subsequently suffering harm to your health you could be entitled to receive compensation.
Some drugs can have different (and dangerous) effects to what they are intended to have due to reactions (interactions) with other factors and conditions in the patient’s body. These can include:
- Interactions with the state of a patient’s body and health
- Interactions with other substances which the patient is consuming, such as cigarettes, alcohol or recreational drugs.
- Interactions with other prescription drugs.
If you have suffered these symptoms as a result of receiving the wrong medication, then you could be entitled to seek compensation. Get in touch with our team to find out more about starting a claim.
If you are eligible to make a medical negligence claim for the unnecessary harm you suffered when your doctor prescribed the wrong medication, you must start the claiming process within the time limits as set out in the Limitation Act 1980. This is usually three years from the date you suffered harm.
Alternatively, you could have three years to begin proceedings from the date of knowledge. This is the date that you first connected, or would have been expected to connect, the harm you suffered with negligence.
However, in some claims for clinical negligence, there are some exceptions to this limitation period. These include:
- Those under the age of 18. A pause is applied to the time limit lasting until the claimant’s 18th birthday. Prior to this, a court-appointed litigation friend can claim on their behalf. Once they turn 18, they are given three years to start the legal process if a claim was not made for them already.
- Those who lack the mental capacity to make their own claim. For these claimants, an indefinite suspension is applied to the time limit. While the time limit is suspended, a litigation friend can start proceedings on their behalf. If the claimant regains this mental capacity and a claim was not filed for them, they will have three years from the date of recovery to start the process.
To find out whether you are still within the limitation period, or for free advice regarding medical negligence claims where the wrong medication was prescribed, please contact one of the advisors from our team.
If you successfully claim compensation for being given the wrong medication, your payout could include compensation for the unnecessary harm you have suffered due to a medical professional breaching their duty of care. This would be compensated for under the head of claim known as general damages.
When calculating general damages, the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) could be useful. It compiles a list of different forms of harm at various severities and assigns them guideline compensation brackets.
The table below contains some examples from the 2022 publication of the JCG, aside from the first figure. However, this is only meant as guidance.
|Multiple severe forms of harm including financial costs and losses.
|A combination of serious injuries from being given the wrong medication, as well as the financial costs and losses it causes, such as medical expenses and loss of income.
|Up to £1,000,000+
|Brain damage Very Severe (a)
|Little meaningful response to environment but may be able to follow basic commands.
|£282,010 to £403,990
|Serious/permanent kidney damage to both kidneys
|£169,400 to £210,400
|Loss of one kidney with no damage to the other.
|£30,770 to £44,880
|Established Grand Mal
|£102,000 to £150,110
|Established Petit Mal
|£54,830 to £131,370
|Digestive System (b)(i)
|Severe toxicosis requiring hospital admission and causing vomiting, diarrhoea and acute paine.
|£38,430 to £52,500
|There has been an almost complete recovery but the natural function have been interfered with long-term.
|£23,410 to £31,310
Additionally, your payout could include compensation for the financial costs and losses caused by the medical negligence. These would be compensated for under the head of claim known as special damages.
Special damages could compensate you for:
- Travel expenses – You may have paid for train fares or taxis to get to medical appointments, for example.
- Loss of pay – You might have lost out on pay if you weren’t able to work due to the harm you suffered.
- Medical expenses – You might have had to pay for prescription medication, for example.
- Care costs – If the wrong medication left you unable to care for yourself for a while, you may have needed to pay for care at home.
You would need to provide evidence of these losses in order to claim for them. Receipts from prescriptions, payslips showing loss of income, or medical bills could be useful in supporting a claim for special damages.
To get a personalised compensation estimate or learn what to do if the wrong medication is given to a patient, and you’d like to file a compensation claim on their behalf, please contact an advisor.
Now we have provided insight into what to do if the wrong medication is given to a patient and they suffer harm; you might be ready to start a claim.
Getting help from a solicitor on your claim can be beneficial, as they can assist with gathering evidence to support your claim, in addition to negotiating for a settlement on your behalf.
What’s more, one of our solicitors may offer to take on your case under a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). This is a type of No Win No Fee arrangement, whereby you would not usually have to pay for your solicitor’s work on your case until it ends.
Under a CFA, if your claim is a success, your solicitor would be paid for their work by deducting a small percentage of your compensation as a success fee. The percentage that this success fee can be is subject to a legal cap.
If your claim doesn’t result in compensation, you would not typically have to pay the solicitor for the work they have done on your case.
To learn whether you could make a claim with one of our No Win No Fee solicitors, please contact an advisor. They could answer any questions you might have about wrong medication claims, and give you free legal advice on your case.
- Call an advisor at any time on 0800 073 8801
- Contact us via the online form.
- Live chat with an expert advisor.
Below, you can learn more about medication error claims:
- How To Claim Compensation For A Wrongful Death Caused By Medical Negligence
- How To Claim Compensation For Medical Negligence Caused By A GP Or A Doctor
- How To Make A Complaint To The NHS
- The Number Of Recorded Medication Errors
If you need any more advice on what to do if the wrong medication is given to a patient and how to claim compensation for the harm caused, get in touch.