Medical Malpractice and Medication Errors

By Michael London on June 10, 2019

Doctor filling out a drug prescriptionWhen you hear about medical malpractice lawsuits, you often think of surgical errors, misdiagnosis, or hospital infections. That’s why the New York, NY lawyers of Douglas & London help clients in medical malpractice cases involving doctors, surgeons, nurses, and pharmacists. A mistake on their part can literally mean the difference between life and death.

Medication errors can be especially dangerous, both in writing prescriptions and in filling those prescriptions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 82 percent of Americans are on at least one medication, so these kinds of mistakes matter. Attorneys Gary J. Douglas and Michael A. London would like to consider some facts on medication errors and what can be done if you or a loved one has been the victim of a prescription drug mistake.

Statistics on Medication Errors

According to the numbers cited by the CDC, medication errors harm roughly 1.3 million Americans each year. This leads to emergency room visits to address issues caused by medication problems. In addition these figures, the CDC notes that roughly 29 percent of Americans take five or more medications, which is why the potential for medication errors must be taken seriously.

Most Common Medications Linked to Errors

A study cited by NPR noted the most common kinds of medications that are linked to drug errors and injuries. Below is a breakdown of the types of drugs, including how many hospitalizations were associated with them between the years 2000-2012:

  • Cardiovascular Drugs - 13,900 (21 percent)
  • Painkillers - 8,088 (12 percent)
  • Hormones - 7,422 (11 percent)
  • Sedatives - 6,493 (10 percent)
  • Antidepressants - 5,832 (9 percent)
  • Anticonvulsants - 4,422 (7 percent)
  • Prescription Cough and Cold Drugs - 3,466 (5 percent)

These national numbers are consistent with what we see among New York clients who’ve experienced medication errors.


Contraindications refer to side effects caused by mixing certain types of drugs together. Before writing a prescription, doctors should go over their patient’s medical history. Checking for any other medications that should not be mixed with a new prescription can prevent harm.

Drug Allergies

Some patients may be allergic to certain kinds of medications. It’s important for doctors to consider the potential of allergic reactions to a drug when they are prescribing it. If these reactions can be avoided, it will save a patient from serious hardship.

Incorrect Dosage

Prescribing too much or too little of a drug can have unintended consequences. It’s important that doctors be mindful of the amounts of drugs that they are prescribing. This can prevent adverse reactions to the medication.

Prescribing the Wrong Type of Drug

These types of errors may crossover with misdiagnosis of a condition. For example, a doctor may prescribe an antibiotic for a patient, yet in reality the patient suffers from a viral infection and requires antiviral medication. These mistakes could be dangerous, and may lead to the need for additional medical care.

Pharmacy Errors

Pharmacy errors could involve anything from mixing up drugs, giving someone another person’s prescription, or mislabeling the drugs that have been given. As with doctor mistakes, pharmacist errors need to be treated with seriousness.

Who Is Liable in a Medication Mistake?

In these kinds of medication errors, the doctor who wrote the prescription or the pharmacist who filled the prescription are likely liable for the harm a patient experiences. The team at our New York law firm can go over the evidence and events of your case and make sure the right party is held accountable.

Speak with Medical Malpractice Attorneys

To learn more about potential legal actions after suffering from a medication error, be sure to contact our skilled medical malpractice attorneys. The team at Douglas & London can be reached by phone at (212) 566-7500.

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