By Joanne Jeffries. Last Updated 12th April 2022. Welcome to our guide on hospital medication error claims. Below, we look at prescription error statistics, and what causes medication errors in hospitals. We also go about explaining what to do if a medication error occurs, and answer questions such as ‘what is the most common medication error in hospitals?’
Suffered a hospital medication error? – We could help
If we are ill we need to be able to rely on the expertise of the doctors and pharmacists who we go to for help, and indeed we all have the right to receive medical care and prescriptions that are safe and effective. All medical professionals have a legal duty to provide safe and effective treatment of a certain standard regardless of their level of experience. If this legal duty is not met, whether through negligence or ineptitude or simple human error it could be classed as medical negligence, or clinical negligence as it is sometimes known.
There are a number of ways that a medication error could occur and numerous ways it could threaten a patient’s health. If the wrong medication is given in a hospital then the patient affected could be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
What to do If a medication error occurs?
In this guide you will find information about hospital prescription errors and what to do if the wrong medication has been given to you as a patient. Most of all it will serve as a guide to how you could make a personal injury claim with the help of our panel of solicitors. Read through it for information about how Accident Claims UK can help you, call us using the contact details provided at the bottom of this guide.
- A Guide To Hospital Medication Error Claims
- What Happens When The Wrong Medication Is Given In A Hospital?
- Circumstances In Which Wrong Medication May Be Given In A Hospital
- Claims If A Hospital Gives The Wrong Medication To A Child
- Medication Error Statistics
- Fatal Wrong Medication Error Statistics
- How Could Hospital Patients Be Impacted By The Wrong Medication?
- Calculating Compensation If The Wrong Medication Is Given In A Hospital
- Additional Damages You Could Be Awarded
- Am I Eligible To Claim For A Medication Error In A Hospital?
- What To Do If Wrong Medication Is Given To A Patient
- Why Select Accident Claims UK?
- No Win No Fee Claims If A Hospital Has Given The Wrong Medication
- Start A Claim Against A Hospital For Dispensing The Wrong Medication
- Supporting Information
We have produced this guide to medication errors and personal injury claims for medication errors for two reasons; one, to allow people to understand more about medication errors, how they happen and how common they are. Secondly to help people understand what their rights are when they or their loved ones have been impacted by medication errors. Specifically your right to make a personal injury claim to seek compensation if there is proof that the hospital made a mistake in providing you with incorrect medication. Our personal injury solicitors can help you in seeking the full amount of compensation you could be entitled to, and as the guide will explain, this will not require up-front costs or taking a financial risk on your part thanks to our free consultations and our no win no fee personal injury claim.
If this guide is informative enough to allow you to make the decision on pursuing a personal injury claim or if you still want to ask further questions, you can consult our accident claims team who will be happy to assist you with any further questions or by referring you to one of our solicitors. For more information about medical negligence claims more broadly you can read this clinical negligence article on our website here.
Hospital medication error claims could lead to severe consequences for a patient. If you have suffered undue harm due to the wrong medication being given to you, you could be eligible for medical negligence compensation.
If a patient receives medication from a hospital for a health problem it is important that the right medication is given in the right amount and is appropriate for their health condition. The wrong medication, or medication provided in the wrong amount or provided to patients with inaccurate instructions for use could cause a reaction ranging from minor symptoms to life-threatening reactions such as anaphylactic shock. That is why it is crucial that medication is prescribed and administered correctly.
Failure to provide a patient with the correct medication and subsequently causing the health problem to avoidably worsen could be a breach of a hospitals duty of care, meaning they could be liable for a compensation claim. You could have the right to make a compensation claim if your health has been affected by receiving an incorrect medication prescription. You could also have the right to make a personal injury claim if you have a child who has suffered as a result of a medication error.
There are a number of ways in which medication could be given to a patient in a way that is incorrect and harmful and could give grounds for the patient or their family members to make a compensation claim. Here are some of them:
- Administrative errors: There could be a mistake in the administration of the hospital or pharmacy that causes a patient to receive medication intended for someone else or to receive a dose that is too large or too small. Hospitals and pharmacies are responsible for ensuring that these errors do not occur.
- Transcribing errors: If the instructions for a prescription have not been written down clearly they could be misinterpreted by other members of staff responsible for dispensing the medication, for example if a doctor writes down the details of the prescription in handwriting that is illegible causing the pharmacist to misread the instructions. Doctors have a responsibility to ensure that all prescriptions are clear and easily legible.
- Dispensing errors: These could occur if the staff (often a pharmacist) responsible for dispensing the medication provides the patient with incorrect medication, either by giving them a container of the wrong medication or by giving a wrong dosage.
- Prescription errors: This could occur if a patient has been prescribed with a medication inappropriate for them and their health situation, this is usually uncommon as only properly qualified doctors have the authority to prescribe medication.
- Diagnosis errors: If a patient is misdiagnosed they could be given the wrong medication for an illness they do not have.
It is especially important for doctors to be diligent when prescribing and dispensing medication to children. Due to their age and size children can be vulnerable to side effects of medication doses intended for adults. It is not acceptable for a doctor to wrongly prescribe medication to a child by being negligent in assessing the child’s health needs or through human error.
Children under the age of 18 cannot make a personal injury claim on their own behalf, but their family members or legal guardians can. Until a child turns eighteen their parents or legal guardians have the legal right to bring a personal injury claim on their behalf irrespective of how much time has passed since the medical negligence occurred. Once the child turns eighteen they then have the legal right as an adult of making a claim on their own behalf. The standard personal injury claim time limit of three years would apply from this point meaning they have until they are twenty one to begin making a claim.
If you have a child who you believe has suffered health problems as a result of wrongly prescribed or wrongly administered medication, or if you have recently turned eighteen and you suffered a health problem in this way, then call our team using the contact information at the bottom of the page to discuss your situation with our team and find out if you have grounds for a claim.
In 2012 the NHS revealed, following a study of over 6,000 prescriptions issued to patients in England by GP’s, that as many as 1 in 20 prescriptions issued to patients were incorrect. The study looked at dosage, record keeping and appropriate check-ups. This equates to one in eight patients receiving prescriptions error. Four in ten patients of over 75 years of age saw a prescription error. Of these incorrect prescriptions 42% were classed as minor errors, 54% were classed as moderate and 4% were classed as severe. This equates to 1 in 550 prescription items being a severe error.
In 2018 a government-commissioned report found that every year in the UK “hundreds of millions” of medication prescription errors occur. 61.4 million of which have the potential to cause moderate harm and 4.8 million of which have the potential to cause severe harm. The same report also concluded that up to as many as 22,300 deaths occur per year because of, or partially because of, medication errors. 712 of these deaths could be “definitively” linked to an adverse drug reaction.
There are a wide variety of symptoms and health problems that a patient given the wrong medication could suffer from. They range from being fairly minor to life threatening, exactly what happens depends on the medication and the health status of the patient.
In many cases, the patient may only suffer minor side effects such as, vomiting, fatigue, diarrhoea, cramps or fever. Depending on how severe the symptoms are these reactions may cause the patient to seek medical treatment. However, some medication errors can cause very serious symptoms. This can often occur because the patient was prescribed a medication which they were allergic to. Allergic reactions can trigger anaphylactic shock which can be fatal. Allergic reactions to wrongly prescribed or dispensed medication can also cause; renal failure, liver damage, kidney failure, brain damage and potentially death.
Don’t be put off if your reaction to the wrongly prescribed medication was not as severe as the responses just listed above, even if you only suffered reactions such as tiredness, rashes or vomiting you ought to call our team to discuss whether or not you have grounds to seek compensation for hospital medication error claims.
You will probably be wondering how much compensation you could receive if you made hospital medication error claims that were successful. We cannot give you an exact figure in his guide since compensation needs to be calculated on a case by case basis depending on the individual circumstances of those making the personal injury claim. However we can outline how compensation is calculated in a way that could help you get a rough idea. This table is a personal injury claims calculator, it shows how much money can be awarded for the effects of various types of injuries. The important principle to bear in mind is that more compensation will be awarded for injuries that are more severe. For a more specific figure you would have to speak to a solicitor.
|Both hands afflicted with dermatitis, causing pain and cracked skin with impacts on domestic life, employment and possibly psychological well being.
|£12,900 to £18,020
|One or both hands afflicted, lasting some period of time but recovering after a while with treatment and the use of gloves for some tasks.
|£8,110 to £10,710
|One or both hands afflicted with irritation and rashes for a period of a few months before recovering with treatment.
|£1,600 to £3,710
|Kidney damage (a)
|Serious and permanent damage to both kidneys.
|£158,970 to £197,480
|Kidney damage (b)
|A significant risk of developing urinary tract infections or loss of kidney function.
|up to £60,050
|Kidney damage (c)
|Loss of one kidney while the other is undamaged.
|£28,880 to £42,110
|Very severe brain damage
|Near total loss of brain and bodily function and control eye movement, sleeping patterns and limited ability to follow basic commands. Full time nursing care will be required.
|£264,650 to £379,100
|Moderately severe brain damage
|Very serious disabilities requiring full time nursing care. Disabilities may cause loss of use of arms and/or legs, cognitive impairment and personality change and reduced life expectancy.
|£205,580 to £264,650
|Moderate brain damage
|Cases in which there is a moderate to modest intellectual deficit, the ability to work is greatly reduced if not removed and there is some risk of epilepsy
|£140,870 – £85,150
|Less severe brain damage
|Persisting issues with memory, concentration and mood swings with possible slight risk of epilepsy, but otherwise a good recovery.
|£14,380 to £40,410
The broader effects of being given the wrong medication in hospital can also be claimed for as well as the reaction or illness caused by the medication itself. These damages refer to the financial cost of the health effects of the incorrect prescription. The financial costs that can be claimed back in special damages could include:
- Medical care costs: If you have needed to pay for any treatment for the effects of the prescription or for the effects of an illness that was not effectively treated as a result of a wrong prescription then you could claim back these expenses.
- Travel expenses: If treatment or medical exams have required you to spend money on travelling then this money could be claimed back through compensation.
- Loss of earnings: If an improperly treated illness, or a health problem arising from an incorrect prescription has kept you from working either temporarily or permanently through causing a disability then the income that you missed out on could be claimed back through compensation.
In order to verify and calculate the amount of money you have lost and/or spent as a result of your condition you will need to be able to provide things like receipts, copies of contracts and so on. For more information about what you could be eligible to claim back in compensation please speak to one of our advisors.
To answer the question “Can I sue for being given the wrong medication?” the simple answer is that if you have suffered health problems as a result of being given the wrong medication and it can be proven that the doctor or the hospital made a mistake then, yes there could be grounds for making a personal injury claim. You could receive compensation if your doctor or pharmacist or the hospital is found to have not met their duty of care to you. To find out if you could be eligible to make a personal injury compensation claim, call our advice team to discuss your situation.
If you have been given the wrong medication and you believe it was the fault of the hospital who prescribed or issued it to you then you could consider making a claim for compensation for any suffering caused. You could use the NHS complaints procedure to highlight the problem and express your dissatisfaction. Our advice team can give you advice on what to do next.
There isn’t any shortage of personal injury claims solicitors firms out there for you to choose from. But we believe that you would benefit the most from working with us. Our solicitors have plenty of experience in handling personal injury claims and they will put their expertise to good use in trying to win you the full amount of compensation you could be entitled to. You can enjoy the benefits of the free legal advice our team offers and the support offered by our personal injury lawyers through a free consultation and our claims are made on a no win no fee basis.
Taking legal action can be expensive if you have to pay for solicitors fees and for legal advice and consultation, Accident Claims UK can take that load off your mind by offering you no win no fee claims. These are a type of personal injury claim in which the client doesn’t have to pay for their solicitors services unless the claim is successful, and pays for the solicitor’s services by giving them a portion of their compensation in the event of a successful claim as a success fee. The exact terms of providing the solicitor with payment from the compensation is negotiable but the maximum amount that can be offered to the solicitor is 25% of the compensation.
If you are interested in starting a claim for compensation or if you would like to ask further questions and receive advice you can contact us right away by calling 0800 073 8801 or by filling our websites contact sheet for one of our team members to call you back.
FAQ On Hospital Medication Error Claims
Prescription errors statistics – How often are prescription errors happening in hospitals?
Some revealing prescription errors statistics were found by an in-depth investigation published by the General Medical Council; 11,077 medication order errors were identified out of 124,260 checked in a 7-day census.
The investigation, which took place across 19 acute hospital trusts in the North West of England in 2008, revealed that there was a mean error rate of 8.9 per 100 orders. 4,190 of these errors, in 50,016 checked orders, were written by doctors in their first-year foundation.
What causes medication errors in hospitals?
Below, you can see the top 10 causes of medication errors in hospitals as per the GMC investigation mentioned above.
What is the most common medication error in hospitals?
The most common medication error in hospitals, as per the above investigation, was due to an omission on admission. The most common type of medication associated with errors was analgesics.
What to do if a medication error occurs?
What to do if a medication error occurs could depend on the situation. If you believe you have been given the wrong medication, you may need to seek medical help. If you are an in-patient in a hospital, it could be wise to press your call bell to check your medication is correct.
If it is not, and you have suffered harm, it could be wise to write a note about what has happened, including the names of the drugs involved. It could also be a good idea to take witness details where possible and call us for legal advice.
What types of medication problems could lead to hospital medication error claims?
It isn’t just the case that being given the wrong medication could lead to you being able to make hospital medication error claims. Not only should a hospital make sure that they are giving you the correct medicine. They should also ensure that you are given the right instructions to take that medication and that it is in the correct dosage. They should also ensure that it does not interact with medication that you are already taking, and they are aware that you are taking. In addition to all this, there are other problems that could stem from being given medication negligently. Some examples could include:
- Being given medication via the wrong route
- Unsafe Ivy equipment leading to you being given a dose too rapidly or too slowly
- Infections from being given intravenous medications via drips that are not flushed or cleaned properly
- Unsafe overriding of automated dispensing machines
- Using syringes negligently
- Poor disposal of sharps
No matter what reason you believe that a medication problem led to you suffering undue harm, we could help you. Our specialist solicitors, that are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority could assist you on a no win no fee basis. We could also offer you free legal advice and would be happy to check your eligibility to claim free of charge.
Could I make hospital medication error claims if it was me that made the error?
If you have made a mistake when taking your medication, this would not constitute medical negligence on the part of the hospital. As long as you were given all of the correct instructions, but you failed to adhere to them, the hospital would not be able to be held liable for any consequences of you taking the wrong medication.
We hope this hospital medication error claims guide was useful to you. If you free legal advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.