Last updated on August 8th, 2022 at 10:33 am
While medication errors in healthcare are quite rare, they do happen and they can cause serious problems. Medication error claims are sometimes possible if you’ve been given the wrong medicine and you’ve suffered as a result. This article will explain how the medication error claims process works and what you could claim compensation for.
Our team can help by reviewing claims against GP surgeries, dental surgeries, hospitals, care homes, minor injuries units and other medical establishments. First, they’ll assess the strength of your case and then they’ll provide free legal advice about your chances of being compensated. If your claim is strong enough, you could be partnered with a medical negligence solicitor on our panel. If they agree to represent you, they’ll do so on a No Win, No Fee basis. That means you won’t pay legal fees unless you receive compensation for your suffering
Please continue reading to learn more about medication error compensation claims. Alternatively, please call us on 0800 652 1345 today if you’d like to know more right away.
How do medication errors occur?
Before we move on to look at when you could be compensated for a medication error, let’s look at how they can occur. Some examples include:
- When medication is dispensed in a care home at the wrong time – see our care home claims page.
- Where a nurse gives a patient incorrect medication in a hospital.
- Where the wrong level of anaesthetic is used during surgery.
- Where a doctor misdiagnoses the patient’s condition and therefore the wrong medication is prescribed – see our wrong medication claims page.
- Where incorrect information about how to take the medicine is printed on the label.
- If a patient is given somebody else’s prescription.
- If a pharmacist dispenses the wrong drug or the wrong dosage – see our pharmacy negligence claims page.
- Where out-of-date medication is dispensed.
- Where medication is stored incorrectly or its container is damaged.
- If a patient is given medication that contains an ingredient that they are known to be allergic to – see our allergic reaction to medication claims page.
As you’ll notice, there are many ways in which the prescribing and dispensing of medication can go wrong. We have not listed every possible scenario in the list above so do not worry if your example differs, we could still help you to start a medication error claim.
Can I claim compensation for a medication error?
All medical professionals have a duty of care toward the patients in their care. That means they must follow the correct procedures, use the right equipment and make sure the patient is properly informed about the treatment they’ll receive. If they breach that duty of care, you could be compensated. Before a medical negligence lawyer from our panel takes on a claim, they’ll try to ascertain whether:
- The level of care provided by the medical professional fell below a level that could be reasonably expected (negligence); and
- A medication error occurred; and
- You suffered as a result of the medication error (causation).
Proving both negligence and causation is important in any medical negligence claim. If you can show that a mistake happened but you can’t show that you suffered in some way, a claim would be unlikely to proceed.
If you’d like us to check whether you’ve got a chance of being compensated for a medication error, call us for a free consultation today.
Problems caused by medication errors
Drugs and medicines are stored securely in hospitals and other clinical environments for a reason – they can be dangerous. In minor cases, medication errors can lead to mild and short-lived symptoms. However, the more serious cases can lead to fatalities, life-threatening or life-changing injuries. Whatever the severity of your suffering, you could be compensated for a medication error. Some examples of why medication error claims might be possible include:
- Where your illness becomes worse because it wasn’t being treated properly.
- Minor adverse drug reactions leading to nausea, diarrhoea and headaches.
- Where a drug interferes with another prescribed medication and makes it less effective causing your condition to get worse.
- If you have an allergic reaction.
- If being given the wrong medicine led you to suffer anxiety, distress or other forms of psychological injuries.
How much compensation for a medication error can I claim?
Compensation claims for medication errors can be made against private healthcare providers and the NHS. In essence, the claims process is no different. In both cases, you will need to demonstrate how you’ve suffered when claiming compensation. This could include the pain you’ve endured and any costs incurred because the medication error.
If your claim is successful, it could include compensation for general damages and special damages including:
- Your physical pain and suffering.
- Mental harm.
- Any effect on your hobbies, social life or family activities.
- Loss of earnings if you lost pay while you were recovering.
- Travel costs such as fuel, parking or public transport fares linked to your treatment.
- The time somebody else spent caring for you (relatives, friends, professional carers).
- Remedial treatment at a private hospital and other medical expenses.
- Future loss of earnings if your ability to earn is reduced for the long term.
- Making changes to your home if they’ll help you cope better with a disability caused by a medication error.
It is important to assess your medication error claim in detail before filing it as you will only be allowed to make a single claim. If you work with a solicitor from our panel, they’ll use their experience and expertise to try and secure the highest level of compensation award possible.
How are medication error compensation claims assessed?
During any type of medical negligence claim, you’ll need to prove the extent of your suffering. This is not something a solicitor can do as they are not medically trained. As such, the claims process dictates that an independent medical expert must assess you.
Their role will be to examine you and work out a) how you’ve suffered and b) the impact of your injuries in the future. Once they have concluded their assessment, they’ll write a report to explain your prognosis. Both parties in the claim will receive a copy of the report.
Fatal medication errors
Although it is a rare occurrence, medication errors in healthcare can lead to fatalities. We realise that claiming compensation if you’ve lost a loved one because a medical professional was negligent won’t make things better. However, it could help you deal with the financial impact of your loss.
A medical negligence solicitor could help you to claim compensation on behalf of your loved one’s estate, a bereavement payment, compensation if you were financially dependent on your loved one’s income and help towards funeral costs.
Talking to a stranger about what happened will be difficult and so your advisor will be compassionate and will not rush you or put any pressure on you during your free consultation.
Making a medication error negligence claim for somebody else
The litigation friend process allows somebody else to pursue a compensation claim on behalf of somebody who cannot represent themselves. This includes:
- Children under the age of 18.
- Adults without the mental capacity to handle their affairs. This could include care home residents or claimants whose symptoms have left them without the mental capacity to claim.
Becoming a litigation friend means you’ll manage the medication error claim on behalf of the claimant and with their best interests in mind at all times. If you wish to proceed with a claim on this basis, a solicitor can help with the approval process so they can begin working on the claim as soon as possible.
The difference between complaints and medication error claims
It’s important to point out that if you make a complaint to the NHS about a medication error, it will not result in a compensation payment even if wrongdoing is admitted. The only way you’ll be compensated for medical negligence is if you file for damages yourself.
That said, the NHS complaints procedure can help you to get a better understanding of what went wrong. In some cases, you may receive an apology and processes may be changed to prevent other people from suffering.
If you work with a solicitor on our team, they’ll discuss the merits of complaining with you. In some cases, the response you receive could be useful evidence for your claim.
Providing proof for a medication error compensation claim
When you begin a medication error claim for medical negligence, you’ll need to prove how you’ve suffered and who was responsible for that suffering. Proving causation is not always easy even if you can prove that mistakes were made. In most cases, the more proof you can supply, the better. The types of proof you might use for medication error claims include:
- A copy of your prescription.
- The packaging your medication came in. This could be used to prove the product was out of date or you were given incorrect instructions.
- A statement from you. Here you can explain how the medication error has affected you physically, mentally and financially.
- As mentioned above, complaint responses and other correspondence may be useful proof of your claim.
- Witness statements. If necessary, your solicitor could ask friends or family to explain how you’ve changed following the medication error.
As part of our free consultation, we’ll review any proof in your case and explain if anything else is needed before you can begin your claim.
Medication error claims time limits
You will need to start your medication error claim within the statutory 3-year time limit. In most cases, this will begin from the date a doctor explained you’d been made ill because you’d been given the wrong medicine.
The time limit will not apply if:
- The claimant is under 18 years of age; or
- The claimant does not have the mental capacity to manage the claim themselves.
We suggest that you should begin your claim as soon as you can. By doing so, there should be plenty of time to collect proof and arrange for an independent medical assessment to be conducted.
No Win, No Fee medication error claims
The main reason some people don’t claim compensation is that they’re worried about legal fees. You needn’t be too concerned about that because if your medication error claim is accepted, a medical negligence solicitor will represent you on a No Win, No Fee basis.
That means that:
- You won’t be asked to pay legal fees upfront.
- If the case fails, you don’t need to pay your solicitor for their work.
- If the case is won, a success fee will be deducted from your settlement.
The success fee is used to cover your solicitor’s time, effort and costs. Legally it is capped at 25% of any settlement you receive. Your No Win, No Fee agreement will clearly state the fee you’ll pay so you’ll know about it before you agree to work with your solicitor.
To check if you could claim for the damage caused by a medication error on a No Win, No Fee basis, please get in touch today.
Start a medication error claim today
If you’ve decided to seek damages for suffering caused by a medication error, we’re ready to help. For free legal advice and a no-obligation review of your claim, simply call us on 0800 652 1345.
If we believe your claim is strong enough, a medical negligence lawyer from our panel will discuss it further with you, and, if they agree to represent you, you’ll benefit from their legal skills and experience on a No Win, No Fee basis.
To find out more about medication error claims, please call or use live chat to get in touch.