Doctors and pharmacists have a duty of care to ensure that patients receive the right medication when a prescription is issued. While our health service is generally very good, prescription errors do occur from time to time. Unfortunately, they can cause potentially very serious health problems. This article on prescription error claims will explain your options if you or a loved one has suffered as a result of a prescription mistake.
To assist you further, we offer a free telephone consultation where a specially trained advisor will assess your claim. They’ll provide legal advice and answer your questions during the call and could connect you with a medical negligence solicitor from our panel if your claim is suitable. If they agree to support your claim, your solicitor will act on a No Win, No Fee basis. This means you only pay legal fees if compensation is paid.
Continue reading to find out more about claiming compensation for prescription errors or give us a call on 0800 652 1345 to begin a claim.
What is a prescription error?
A prescription error is basically a mistake or oversight made during the process of prescribing medication to a patient. Prescription errors can occur at various stages, including the initial prescribing, dispensing, or administration of medication. If they cause you to suffer in some way, you could be compensated.
Some examples of prescription errors include:
Doctor prescription errors
- Where your GP prescribed a medicine that you are known to be allergic to.
- If your doctor prescribed the wrong dosage.
- Where your GP continued to offer repeat prescriptions without reviewing your symptoms regularly.
- Where you were prescribed a drug that conflicts with other medication.
- Being prescribed medicine that affects another diagnosed condition.
Pharmacy Prescription Errors
- Being given a different drug than the one listed on your prescription.
- Where the wrong dosage of medication (too high or too low) was dispensed.
- Incorrect instructions on the medication label.
These are just a few of the mistakes that could lead to prescription error claims. According to a 2018 report by the University of York, there are estimated to be over 200 million medication errors made by the NHS in England each year, although 3 out of 4 errors are unlikely to cause any harm to patients.
Can I claim compensation for a prescription error?
Prescription errors are a form of medical negligence. Before a medical negligence lawyer from our panel takes on a claim, they’ll try to ascertain whether:
- Medical negligence occurred: Where the standard of care offered by a medical professional was below the level you might reasonably expect of a competent practitioner; and
- Causation exists: As a direct result of that negligence, you were made ill or suffered in some way.
Proving both negligence and causation is important in any medical negligence claim. Where it can be shown that a mistake happened but you aren’t able to show that you suffered in some way, a prescription error claim would be unlikely to proceed. For example, a medical negligence solicitor wouldn’t be able to help if you were given the wrong medication but there were no adverse side effects or complications.
What complications can be caused by prescription errors?
Here are some examples of problems that can happen if you take the wrong medication because of a prescription error:
- Your existing condition might get worse because it is not being treated properly. This can make your symptoms worse or mean you need more aggressive treatment. It can also prolong your illness which may result in more time off work.
- Adverse drug reactions can lead to short-term problems like nausea, sickness, diarrhoea and fever. There is also a serious risk of damage to organs such as the kidneys, liver and even the heart.
- Allergic reactions can occur if you’re prescribed a medication that you’re allergic to. These can cause relatively minor conditions such as a rash or nausea. A more serious medication allergic reaction can result in anaphylactic shock which can cause life-threatening symptoms and lead to fatalities in the most serious cases.
If you or a loved one has suffered in any way as a result of a prescription error, please let us know and we’ll check if you could be entitled to claim.
Care home prescription errors
While a prescription error can have an adverse effect on anyone, they are perhaps more serious for elderly or vulnerable patients such as those in care homes. In these situations, any type of medication mistake could lead to very serious health problems that escalate quickly if not dealt with swiftly.
If you have a loved one who’s suffered because of a prescription error in a care home, we could help you to claim compensation on their behalf. A claim against a care home might be possible if the care home failed to dispense medication at the right time or gave your loved one the wrong medicine.
A solicitor from our panel could help you to start a claim in these circumstances so please call if you’d like to check your options.
Fatal prescription errors
Unfortunately, some prescription errors can lead to fatalities. While we realise that claiming compensation won’t make it any easier to deal with the loss of a loved one, it could help you to deal with any associated financial implications.
If you’ve lost a loved one because of a prescription error, a medical negligence solicitor from our panel could help you to claim for any suffering they endured before they passed away. Then you could also seek damages to help if you were financially dependent on your loved one’s income, benefits or pension. Furthermore, any costs such as funeral expenses could also be claimed back.
If you’d like to find out more, please get in touch. There’s no obligation to make a claim but we’ll provide free legal advice so that your options are clear.
Providing proof for a prescription error compensation claim
Your solicitor will need to prove how you have suffered from the prescription error and why the defendant was to blame by presenting as much supporting proof as possible. The types of proof you might use for prescription error claims include:
- A copy of your prescription.
- Medical records from your GP to confirm any allergies, your health history and any other prescribed medications.
- Medication packaging including boxes, blister packs and bottles to check for expiry dates or damage.
- A personal statement to explain how you’ve suffered physically, mentally and psychologically.
- Witness statements from friends and family to help explain how you were affected by the prescription error.
- Financial records to help prove any losses you wish to claim back as part of your claim.
If you have any proof to support your claim already, please let your advisor know when you call. If anything else is required, your solicitor will work hard to secure it if your claim is accepted.
Should I just complain about a prescription error?
You have the right to complain to the NHS if you’re unhappy with any aspect of your treatment. You could also raise concerns with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) or the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPC).
Each of these processes could provide a useful insight into the cause of your prescription error and could help to prove liability for your suffering. However, the most you can hope for from a formal complaint is an apology or procedural changes to prevent similar issues in the future.
If you want to be compensated for a prescription error, the only way this will happen is if you take legal action and start a medical negligence claim against the defendant.
How much compensation do you get for a prescription error?
The amount of compensation you might be entitled to for a prescription error will vary depending on the extent of your suffering. If your claim is taken on, your solicitor will ask an independent medical specialist to meet with you to find out how you’ve suffered. Once the meeting has concluded, your solicitor will let you know how much compensation could be paid. It could include damages to cover:
- The pain and suffering caused by physical symptoms.
- Any psychiatric suffering such as distress, fear and depression.
- Lost income.
- Care costs if someone else was needed to support you while you were ill.
- Loss of amenity if your condition stopped any of your normal activities.
- Medical costs including private hospital treatment.
- Rehabilitation costs and home modifications to help with any longer-term problems.
- Future reductions in earnings.
- Travel expenses.
If you work with a solicitor from our panel to claim compensation for a prescription error, they’ll use their experience and expertise to try and secure the highest level of compensation award possible.
Prescription error claim time limits
As you may have read elsewhere on our website, medical negligence claims in the UK have a 3-year time limit. For prescription error claims, the limitation period will usually start from the date you found out about the mistake i.e. from the date a doctor linked your illness to the prescription error.
If claiming on behalf of a loved one who lacks the mental capacity to handle a compensation claim alone, there is no time limit for claiming while they’re incapacitated. The same is true if a child has suffered because of a prescription error. For the latter scenario, you can claim at any time before the child’s 18th birthday. If you don’t their time limit will start from that date.
We would always suggest that you start the claims process as quickly as you possibly can. Not only will this mean you’ll receive compensation faster if the claim is won, but it will usually make it easier for your solicitor to collect medical reports and evidence.
How long do prescription error claims take?
Each prescription error claim is different which makes it difficult to say how long yours will take. If you’ve already recovered fully and your case is straightforward, you could be compensated relatively quickly.
However, if you’ve suffered life-changing or life-threatening injuries, more time might be needed to ascertain your prognosis. Although these claims can take longer, you could be paid interim payments to help deal with any immediate financial implications.
No Win, No Fee claims
We believe that it’s a good idea to have specialist legal representation if you make any type of medical negligence claim. You shouldn’t be concerned about the cost of hiring a specialist as the medical negligence solicitors on our panel provide a No Win, No Fee service for all accepted prescription error claims. As your solicitor will take on the financial burden in a No Win, No Fee agreement, you should find the claims process much less stressful.
If you wish to proceed, your solicitor will send you a contract called a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). Once the paperwork has been dealt with, your solicitor will start working on your case and:
- Make contact with the defendant to inform them of your intention to claim.
- Collect any proof needed.
- Negotiate on your behalf and deal with all communication to shield you from difficult legal or medical questions.
- Keep you updated throughout with information about how your prescription error claim is progressing.
- Only agree to settle if you’re happy that any compensation offer is fair.
No Win, No Fee claims mean that you don’t pay any legal costs upfront and you won’t need to pay your solicitor if the claim fails. If you do receive compensation, your solicitor will deduct a success fee from the settlement amount. This success fee is legally capped at 25 per cent of any compensation awarded.
Start a prescription error claim today
We can help if you’re thinking of claiming compensation for a prescription error. To start, simply call 0800 652 1345 today. A specialist will answer any queries you may have and offer free advice on your chances of being compensated.
If you do wish to take legal action and a medical negligence lawyer from our panel is happy to help, you’ll receive representation on a No Win, No Fee basis. As such, legal fees and lawyer’s costs will only need to be paid if you’re compensated.
To find out more about prescription error claims, please call or use live chat to get in touch.