Legal Liability for Prescription Errors By Josh Silverman on December 18, 2023

Prescription errors can have serious consequences, jeopardizing patient health and safety. In the complex realm of healthcare, understanding liability for prescription errors is crucial for both medical professionals and patients alike.

Healthcare providers, including physicians, pharmacists, and nurses, owe a duty of care to their patients. When prescription errors occur – whether it be a misdiagnosis, incorrect dosage, or an allergic reaction – determining liability involves examining the circumstances surrounding the mistake.

Physicians and nurses are one line of defense against prescription errors particularly in hospital settings. They are responsible for accurate diagnosis, appropriate medication selection, and proper dosage. If a prescription error stems from a physician's negligence, such as misdiagnosis or failure to consider a patient's medical history, they may be held liable for resulting harm.  Likewise if a medication error stems of a nurse failing to administer the proper dose of a medication to the proper patient, the nurse may be held legally liable.

Pharmacists, entrusted with dispensing medications accurately, play a crucial role in patient safety. Dispensing the wrong medication or incorrect dosage due to negligence or miscommunication can lead to severe consequences. Pharmacists may face liability if they fail to catch errors, provide incorrect instructions, or overlook potential drug interactions.

In the event of hospital or clinic settings, nurses may also bear responsibility. Administering the wrong medication or dosage falls within their purview, and negligence in this regard may result in legal consequences.

Patients, on their part, should actively communicate with healthcare providers, disclose their medical history, and inquire about prescribed medications. If a prescription error occurs, patients may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim, particularly if the error causes harm or exacerbates an existing condition.  Unfortunately pharmacists are frequently overworked.  It is not unusual for a pharmacist to have to work a 12 hour shift behind the counter without the support of other pharmacists. 

In conclusion, liability for prescription errors is a multifaceted issue that requires a comprehensive understanding of the responsibilities of each healthcare professional involved. As we navigate the intricate web of healthcare, fostering communication, diligence, and accountability is essential for ensuring patient safety and holding those responsible for errors accountable under the law.

Josh Silverman

Silverman Law Firm LC

At the Silverman Law Firm LC in Richmond, VA, attorney Josh Silverman and his team represent victims of personal injuries and medical malpractice. Josh Silverman has been recognized as a "Virginia Super Lawyer" every year since 2013 and was selected as a 2015 Top Rated Lawyer in Healthcare Law based on his AV Peer Review Rating in Martindale-Hubbell©.

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