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Can You Sue for a Prescribed Medication Injury?

Written by Berkowitz

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Leading Prescription Medication Injury Attorneys Serving Connecticut Clients

Prescription medications are meant to help patients recover, feel better, or even improve their quality of life. However, these medications that are designed to help, may also have dangerous, if not fatal, side effects. When a prescription medication is prescribed to a patient, it needs to be scrutinized.

Not only should a physician ensure that the medication’s benefits outweigh the risks for their patient, but also that the proper dosage is prescribed, filled, and that the drug is taken correctly. More so, they must ensure that there are no side effects or interactions that could affect their patient.

When a patient suffers harm because of a medication prescription error, administering error, or dangerous interaction, they may be able to file a lawsuit against the physician or numerous other parties depending on the circumstances.

What Danbury Residents Should Know About Prescription Medication Injuries

Any time you see a medication advertisement, you will notice that there is a list of side effects named at the end of the ad. When you get a prescription, you will receive an informational print out that also lists all potential side effects. Some of those side effects can be significant.

When side effects are not adequately discussed, disclosed, or even considered, there is a high risk of injury. In that case, you could file a lawsuit against your physician for failing to inform you of the risks of taking a medication.

Prescription Medications and Your Health Care Providers Duty

Side effects are symptoms that may occur and are unrelated to the illness or reason for you are taking a medication.

Some minor side effect examples could include:

  • Dry mouth
  • A headache or a migraine
  • Nausea
  • Constipation

Other times, side effects can be severe and life-threatening, such as:

  • Congenital disabilities
  • Organ damage
  • Bleeding
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Death

These side effects should be disclosed to you by your physician when they suggest taking a medication. When a doctor prescribes medication to a patient, they are required, as part of their legal duty, to tell their patient:

  • All benefits associated with the medication, but also the risks of that drug. They may discuss how these benefits outweigh any potential risks.
  • Discuss how the medication will interact with any over-the-counter or other prescriptions that the patient is taking as well as medications the patient cannot take with that new prescription.
  • The known side effects of the medication, and the likelihood that the patient will encounter them. Also, if these side effects will go away with time or if the patient should notify their doctor of side effects and change medications right away.

Once the patient agrees to take the medication, the physician will write the prescription and the patient will have it filled by their pharmacy.

From there, the duty falls onto the pharmacist. The pharmacy must dispense the medication that was prescribed and in the proper dose. Furthermore, they must ensure that the dosing instructions given to the patient are correct.

If medications are administered in a hospital or doctor’s office, then the nurse or healthcare provider giving that medication must also deliver the correct medication at the proper dose. They must also follow any specific state, federal, and in-house protocols to ensure all drugs are dosed properly.

The Healthcare Provider’s Failure to Warn

If you suffered an injury from a severe side effect, but your physician never told you about this potential side effect, then you may file a claim for a failure to warn. In this case, you must show that your healthcare provider did not discuss the risks with you or take steps to explain any known complications.

When a Prescription Medication Injury Becomes Malpractice

When a physician, nurse, or pharmacy fails to comply with their duty, that may be the basis for a medical malpractice claim against the company or party. To succeed with a malpractice claim, you must establish the following specific elements.

You Took the Medication Correctly

The most crucial element is that you took the medication as prescribed and intended. If you abused a medication, took someone else’s prescription, or did not follow the dosage instructions, you cannot hold healthcare providers liable for your injuries.

Show Negligence or Failure to Perform Duty of Care

Now that you have established that you did not cause the injury or adverse event, the next step is to prove that your healthcare provider failed their duty of care to you. For example, if you are basing your claim on a failure-to-warn, then you must establish that the physician did not advise you of the side effects or discuss the complications that you are now experiencing.

If you are basing your claim on a dispensing error, then you would need to find proof that the original prescription was miswritten regarding dosage or that the pharmacist administered medicine that was different from the one prescribed to you by your physician.

Causation: Showing the Error Led to Your Injury

You must show that there is a link between the medication error and your injuries. This is often done through expert testimony, such as a physician or pharmacist, testifying about how the error occurred and whether it was a deviation from the accepted standard of care.

Prove Damages Resulted from the Injuries

You must show a link between the damages you are requesting and your injury. Damages are the compensation you receive for your injuries in a malpractice case and may include:

  • Medical Expenses – Any medical costs associated with the prescription error, such as hospitalization, surgeries, or even additional medications needed to treat the side effect or condition you are experiencing.
  • Lost Wages and Loss of Earning Capacity – If you were seriously injured, you might have taken time off work to recover from your injuries. In some cases, a medication error could lead to a severe injury – one that leaves you permanently disabled and unable to work. In that case, you would also need compensation for your lost wages and ability to earn wages in the future.
  • Pain and Suffering – Some medication injuries are excruciating and can lead to physical, mental, and emotional suffering. For example, you could suffer a stroke from medication and be paralyzed the rest of your life.

Prescription Medication Injuries and Product Liability

Realize that sometimes your physician and the pharmacist do their jobs in ensuring you are safe from harmful side effects. Instead, the manufacturer is the one that did not take care to prevent your injuries. In this case, you are no longer filing a malpractice lawsuit, you would be filing a product liability case against the manufacturer.

A product liability claim may name the manufacturer, distributor, or the pharmacy – depending on the circumstances of the case.

Under a product liability case, you will have three main types of complaints:

Failure to Warn or Improper Instructions

Manufacturers are required to warn consumers about all potential side effects with their medications before they release them. That is why the FDA requires that they conduct consumer trials and research before having their medication approved, so that they can weed out potentially fatal side effects.

In a failure to warn lawsuit, the medication does not have the instructions or side effects listed for the consumer to consider before taking that medication. Sometimes this is the result of aggressive advertisements, where manufacturers will market their drug for off-label use to increase profits. Other times, a manufacturer is unaware or fails to disclose potential side effects when they seek FDA approval.

Drug Design Defects

A drug design defect means that the prescription medication’s formula was defective from conception. That could mean that the drug’s formula led to catastrophic reactions, dangerous side effects, or long-term complications in patients taking the medication.
The medication in these cases was manufactured correctly, and there was no error in prescribing. Instead, it is a “bad” drug from the start.

Drug Manufacturing Defects

In a manufacturing defect, the product was formulated safely, and there is no defect in the design. Instead, an error during manufacturing led to a bad batch of product. Sometimes these batches are tainted with traces of other medications that were mixed into the drug that caused a harmful side effect. Other times a drug could be too diluted, which makes them ineffective.

Who Can You Name in a Defective Drug Lawsuit Injury?

If a defective drug injures you, then you may be able to file your case against several parties, including:

  • Pharmaceutical Company – The pharmaceutical company is the manufacturer of the drug. These companies are responsible for testing the medication thoroughly before seeking FDA approval, and they are the company that produces and sends the medication to distributors.
  • Testing Laboratory – If an independent laboratory is responsible for testing the medication to ensure it is safe or that the potency is correct, then that agency could be held liable for the injury you sustain as well.
  • Pharmacy – In defective drug cases, the pharmacy is the last line of defense between yourself and the medication. If they did not counsel you on the drug, or they did not take complaints from patients about the drug having a possible defect, they may be a potential defendant.

Hire a Drug Injury Attorney Today

The problem with these types of cases is that you are not only dealing with more than one party, but you are often going up against a large company with a team of attorneys ready to fight back against your claim. To ensure you receive compensation for your injuries, you need to hire an attorney that has experience handling these cases.

Contact Berkowitz and Hanna, LLC today to schedule a free consultation about your drug injury case.