While eating right, getting plenty of exercise, and avoiding unhealthy behaviors can go a long way towards maintaining your good health, many of us still require prescription medications for the treatment of temporary illnesses and permanent, chronic conditions. The right medicine can make all the difference in alleviating pain and managing symptoms, while also improving the overall quality of our lives. At the same time, all medicines on the market carry some risk of side effects, and without careful medical monitoring, can result in serious and potentially life threatening side effects and adverse events.
At the Joye Law Firm, we handle a variety of types of cases involving the negative impacts from prescription drugs. Our experienced Clinton medical malpractice attorney can advise you on your rights to compensation in the event you experienced a reaction which your doctor failed to warn you about. Depending on the circumstances, the responsibility may lie with your medical provider, who either failed to warn you of effects or made an error in prescribing. In other situations, it may be the fault of the pharmaceutical company itself, for failing to warn consumers about their product. However you were injured, we can help protect your rights, while assisting you in getting the compensation you need to recover.
Adverse Drug Events Caused by Medication Errors
Medication errors have become an unfortunately common problem in the United States, resulting in adverse drug events such as severe side effects, allergic reactions, and drug overdoses. The US Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) reports that as many as 3.5 million people visit their doctor each year as the result of medication side effects, while more than one million people suffer reactions severe enough to require hospital emergency room care. Adverse drug events can occur over the course of both outpatient and inpatient treatment, and for those already in the hospital as the result of an injury, illness, or chronic health condition, adverse drug events are even more common, with the potential to triple the total amount of time required during a hospital stay.
According to the ODPHP, most adverse drug events are entirely preventable, and occur as the result of medication errors and mistakes. The ramifications of these errors can range from temporary, mild discomfort to severe, potentially life threatening conditions. Common causes of medication errors include the following:
- Being prescribed the wrong type of medication, or one which you are allergic to.
- Being prescribed the right type of medication, but in the wrong dosage or amount.
- Being prescribed a medication that has dangerous interactions with other medications you are currently taking, or other health conditions you are suffering from.
These mistakes can occur as the result of inadequate medical histories, lack of communication between medical providers, doctors failing to thoroughly read patient charts before prescribing, and hospital mishaps and mistakes, as well as errors on the part of the pharmacist filling the prescription.
In some cases, the responsibility for adverse drug events lands squarely on the drug manufacturer themselves. While all prescription medications in the U.S. are required to be undergo rigorous testing before being approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are cases in which dangerous flaws in medicines do not come to light until after the product is on the market, as well as cases in which manufacturers fail to warn consumers of the potential dangers. Unfortunately, by the time the FDA uncovers the problem, the damage may have already been done. Problem medications are reported to the FDA Med Watch safety system, which may issue a safety alert or recall of the medicine, depending on the severity of the problem and the number of people affected. Recent examples of recalled medications include:
- Fluoroquinolone antibacterial drugs, used to treat respiratory and urinary tract infections, which can have disabling effects on the muscles and joints and impair the nervous system;
- Zecuity (Sumatriptan) Migraine Patch, which can result in burns and scarring;
- Olanzapine, which is used to treat behavioral disorders, and can result in life threatening injuries to the liver, kidneys, lungs, and heart.
Legal Liability for Medication Errors and Adverse Drug Events
Depending on the circumstances in your particular case, there are two ways in which you may be entitled to compensation for the negative effects you have suffered as the result of prescription medications:
Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Under Section 15-79-110 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, you may be entitled to compensation for any adverse drug events you suffered if the cause of your injury or symptoms was due to negligence on the part of the doctor or hospital staff. In order to establish a medical malpractice claim, the doctor or hospital would have had to do or not do something different than another medical provider would have under similar circumstances, such as failing to consult your medical history or prescribing a drug despite the potential for interactions with other drugs you were taking.
Product Liability Lawsuit
Cases in which the adverse drug event you suffered was the result of defects in the drug itself, you may be entitled to compensation through a prescription drug lawsuit. Under the Title 15, Chapter 73 of the SC Code, manufacturers and sellers of defective or dangerous products can be held accountable for any injuries that occur which the seller failed to warn the public about, and damages you may be entitled to include punitive damages meant to punish the manufacturer or seller for particularly reckless or negligent conduct which put your health at risk. .
How Our Clinton Injury Attorney Can Help You
If you or someone you care about has been the victim of medication errors or suffered negative effects while taking a particular drug, contact the Joye Law Firm right away. Our experienced medical malpractice and product liability attorneys defend the rights of injured patients, and can advise you on the best course of action to get the compensation you deserve. We act as a strong legal advocate on your behalf, providing the compassionate, comprehensive legal service you need, at a time when you need it most. Serving Clinton and the surrounding areas, call or contact our office online today for a free case consultation.