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Can You Sue for Ineffective Medication?

Written by Berkowitz


Your doctor prescribes you a medication. You take it as prescribed, never miss a dose, and yet something does not seem right. You see no positive changes, and maybe you are getting sicker. You start to wonder if the wrong medication was prescribed or worse, the drug just is not working.

Unfortunately, not all medications work. Sometimes it comes down to genetic makeup or the illness you are trying to treat. Other times, however, it is an issue of malpractice. Whether it is a physician who prescribed the wrong dose, a pharmacy that filled with the wrong medication, or a manufacturer that released a drug with lower potency, it is imperative you address the issue of your ineffective medication right away.

Exploring Your Legal Options in Bridgeport, CT

When medication does not work as it should, you may wonder if you can hold anyone liable for the injuries or further medical complications you have as a result. However, determining the at-fault party is not as easy. You will need to hire an injury attorney with experience in malpractice cases. The reason for this is you may have multiple defendants such as the pharmacy, physician, or even the drug manufacturer.

Only an experienced attorney can determine who is liable and how much compensation you might receive. While you wait for a consultation, we can review the various reasons for ineffective medication that might allow you to seek compensation.

The Wrong Medication Dispensed by the Pharmacy

In this scenario, the prescription was correct when written by your physician, but there was an error at the pharmacy that dispensed the wrong medication or dose to you. When the pharmacy dispenses a medication, it is imperative that they take proper steps to ensure the right drug and dosage are given to the customer.

Prescription errors often occur at the pharmacy level. Some pharmacies are known for making cost-cutting measures so that they can increase profits. These measures often put patients at risk for prescription errors. The measures may include keeping fewer staff members during each shift, not creating an environment for double checking medications, and failing to update software.

When You Receive the Wrong Medication

A pharmacist or pharmacy chain might be legally liable for dispensing the wrong medication to you or by improperly filling the prescription medication. Some common injury lawsuits that stem from receiving the wrong medication on the pharmacy level include:

  • Carelessly dispensing medication
  • Unintentionally dispensing medication at the wrong dosage
  • Failing to verify the prescription written with the doctor
  • Failing to provide proper directions or dosage on the label
  • Labeling errors
  • Neglecting the patient’s prescription history
  • Failing to warn the patient or provide a consultation regarding the medication
  • Mixing prescription medications
  • Ignoring patient-listed allergies and reactions to medications

Pharmacies today are overworked and understaffed. They might fill hundreds of prescriptions per day, which only increases the likelihood that a dispensing error will occur. Other times, it is a lack of communication between the doctor and the pharmacy. Doctors that still write prescriptions by hand may have illegible handwriting, and the pharmacy may guess at which medicine they are supposed to dispense to the patient.

Significant Injuries Can Occur in Dispensing Errors

When a pharmacy dispenses the wrong medication, serious injuries (sometimes fatalities) can occur. For example, you are prescribed an antibiotic to treat an infection. The pharmacy prescribes the wrong dose, giving you too little of the antibiotic. This allows the infection to continue and your symptoms worsen. Eventually the infection becomes so strong you develop septicemia and require hospitalization and treatments.

Not every injury caused by a dispensing error is this extreme, but taking the wrong medication can still lead to severe symptoms. For example, a patient could suffer from:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Sleeplessness
  • Sleepiness
  • Mood changes
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Bleeding issues

Potency Issues on the Manufacturer Level

In some instances, the medication was prescribed and dispensed as it should have been. Instead of the physician or pharmacist making the error, it is the drug’s manufacturer. The manufacturer creates batches of medication. And while the formulation may have the right potency, an error during creation could leave a medication with too little strength to be effective. Unfortunately, the only way these potency errors are often found is after patients take the medicine and get worse.

Drug manufacturers are required to use quality control measures that ensure any medication they distribute has the adequate potency and is safe. When a drug fails to deliver what it is intended or causes injury, the manufacturer can be held liable.

Potency Issues Are a Manufacturing Defect

Manufacturing defects occur when the design and marketing of the drug are correct, but something goes wrong during manufacturing. Typically, potency issues only affect a single batch or a few batches before they are caught and corrected. In some cases, the manufacturer might issue a general recall.

Even if a recall is issued, the recall does not make the manufacturer immune from legal action. If their low potency medication causes a victim further injury, they can still be held liable.

Other parties that might be held accountable include independent testing laboratories. Some companies hire testing laboratories to certify potency in batches and conduct quality control inspections. If that laboratory fails to detect a lower strength and allows the medication to continue to the consumer market, they too may be liable.

Doctor Prescribed the Wrong Medication

Medication might be ineffective because it is the wrong medication to prescribe for a patient’s condition. When your physician writes the wrong prescription, and that error causes injury or harm, you may have a valid medical malpractice claim.

However, prescription error cases are quite complex, and you must prove that the physician’s error was a matter of negligence – and not part of the diagnostic course.

Physicians are only liable if they make a mistake themselves. If the pharmacy or drug manufacturer produces the error, then your physician might escape liability. Like any injury claim, you must prove that your physician’s actions equate to negligence.

How Do You Prove Medical Negligence for the Wrong Prescription?

In this type of malpractice case, you need to show that your physician was negligent when they prescribed the ineffective medication. To do this, you must establish a few factors.

  1. Standard of Care – You must show what an accepted standard of care in this situation might be. This could be reviewing medical history or conducting further laboratory tests before prescribing a medication to treat your suspected condition.
  2. Deviating from the Standard of Care – Next, you must show that your physician deviated from the expected standard. For example, using medical records to prove that your physician did not order any tests before diagnosing you. Then your physician prescribed a medication when other physicians would have done diagnostic tests before prescribing.
  3. Harm – You must connect the deviation from the standard of care to your injuries. If your injuries are not the direct result of a physician prescribing the wrong medication, you do not have an injury case.

Examples of Malpractice Cases Involving Prescribing the Wrong Medication

If you are filing a lawsuit for ineffective medication, here are a few ways a physician might have made the error:

  • Your physician prescribes the right medication, but wrong dose.
  • Your physician prescribes the proper medication and dose but does not give correct instructions for taking the medication.
  • Your physician prescribes the wrong dose and medication but does not have you take it for the recommended duration.
  • Your physician prescribes the wrong medication entirely.
  • Your physician prescribes a medication that interacts with medications you are already taking –  yielding it ineffective.
  • Your physician prescribes a medication that is not effective in treating your condition.

Prescribing and Diagnostics Is Not an Exact Science

One thing you must realize is that diagnostics is not 100 percent guaranteed. Even with the proper laboratory testing and results, a doctor might prescribe a medication that does not work. If your physician did all the necessary testing, weighed their options, and did not deviate from the standard of care, you would not have a malpractice case against them.

The law only punishes physicians for medical negligence; not for when a physician’s efforts fail. Therefore, if you suspect that your physician was negligent when prescribing an ineffective medication, you need to speak with an attorney and see if your case qualifies for compensation.

Considering the Factors: How Much Compensation Will You Receive?

If you suffer from injuries due to ineffective medication, you will receive compensation through an injury or malpractice lawsuit. The amount you receive will vary depending on:

  • Your age
  • The seriousness of your injury
  • Type of treatment given that was ineffective
  • Procedures required to help you recover
  • The number of other complaints against the defendant
  • Pre-existing health conditions
  • The total cost of medical expenses
  • The total cost of lost wages

Speak with an Attorney Today Regarding Your Ineffective Medication Injury Claim

If you took medication that was ineffective, and you suffered serious injuries as a result, you may be entitled to compensation. To explore your options, speak with an attorney from Berkowitz and Hanna, LLC. Our advocates can review your medical history, identify where the ineffective medication originated from, and start the process of helping you recover financially.

Contact Berkowitz and Hanna, LLC today to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation.