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Medical Malpractice

Can I Sue a Doctor for Prescribing the Wrong Medication?

July 29, 2022

After having an adverse prescription reaction, you may wonder, “Can I sue a doctor for prescribing the wrong medication?” Doctors should take into account a patient’s health, medical history, and other prescriptions but sometimes still give patients the wrong prescription. More than 100,000 people report suspected medication errors each year, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Can I Sue a Doctor for Prescribing the Wrong Medication?

When a doctor prescribes the wrong medication to a patient and the medication causes illness or injury, the patient can sue a doctor for prescribing the wrong medication. In order to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in court, the patient must show proof that the doctor is at fault for negligent medical actions.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a hospital, doctor, or other medical professional provides substandard medical care to a patient, fails to provide appropriate treatment to a patient or omits appropriate actions to a patient, causing the patient to suffer an illness, injury, or death.

There are many ways that negligence can occur, but the most common actions include:

  • Prescribing the wrong medication or dosage
  • Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose
  • Incorrect or unnecessary surgical procedures
  • Failure to order proper medical tests
  • Premature discharge of a patient
  • Failure to follow up with a patient

Medical professionals take an oath to protect their patients while they are under their care. Medical institutions and medical professionals are required to provide their patients with medical care that complied with the standard of care, which is what a reasonably well qualified and reasonably careful medical provider would do under the same or similar circumstances. If medical malpractice results in harm to a patient, the patient has a legal right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit with a medical malpractice attorney. At-fault parties may include hospitals, urgent care facilities, medical clinics, doctors, nurses, surgeons, EMT workers, dentists, and other types of health care professionals.

Medical malpractice lawsuits can be complex. Depending on the type of patient injuries, the severity of those injuries, and the consequences of those injuries on the patient’s life, medical malpractice cases can take months or even years to resolve. Successful cases often result in large payouts to injury victims, however, most cases never proceed to a trial. Approximately 80% of medical malpractice cases end in settlement agreements between the patient’s personal injury lawyer and the insurance company representing the at-fault medical institution or medical professional.

Are Prescription Errors Medical Malpractice?

Yes, prescription errors can be considered medical malpractice, but only under certain circumstances. To sue a doctor for prescribing the wrong medication, you must first prove that the prescription errors were caused by the negligent actions of your doctor and that the prescription errors resulted in some type of harm.

There are many ways a doctor can make mistakes when prescribing medications to patients. Common medication errors that doctors make include the following:

  • Prescribing the wrong medication or dosage
  • Prescribing the medication for the wrong amount of time
  • Providing the wrong instructions for taking the medication
  • Prescribing medication with an ingredient that may cause an allergic reaction in the patient
  • Prescribing a medication that causes the patient’s condition to worsen
  • Prescribing a medication that may have a dangerous interaction with other medications the patient is taking

When prescription errors cause illness, injury, or death to a patient, the doctor can only be held liable if he/she actually makes the error. This may be difficult to prove unless the patient receives the medication directly from the doctor and not from a pharmacist or drug manufacturer. If the patient has the prescription filled at a local pharmacy, at a local retailer, or through an online order, it may be difficult to prove that the doctor is at fault. It’s important to note that prescription errors can be made anywhere in the supply chain from the manufacturer to the patient. Some cases may be handled by an unsafe products attorney.

How to Prove Medical Malpractice

To show proof of medical negligence, you must establish what the medical standard of care was, how your doctor violated that standard of care, and how you were harmed as a result of those actions. Proving the medical standard of care usually involves the testimony of expert witnesses who are in the same medical field as the doctor accused of negligence. The medical standard of care is based on the level of care provided by doctors in the same field of medicine with the same medical training and professional experience. When you sue a doctor for prescribing the wrong medication, medical records and testimony of expert witnesses have a significant impact on the outcome of your lawsuit.

To prove a doctor committed medical malpractice, you must show proof that four factors exist:

(1) You Had a Doctor/ Patient Relationship

As the patient, you must prove that a doctor/patient relationship existed during the time of your injury. You must prove that you were under the care of the doctor in question and that the doctor agreed to treat you for some type of medical condition. Keeping track of doctor’s visits, treatments, and prescribed medications is important to winning a medical malpractice case.

(2) Your Doctor Violated the Standard of Care

As the patient, you must prove that your doctor violated the standard of care by acting in a negligent manner. If you sue a doctor for prescribing the wrong medication, your injury attorney can call expert witnesses to testify during the trial. This can show that a reasonably well qualified and reasonably careful medical professional would have acted differently in a similar situation.

(3) Your Doctor Caused Your Injury/Illness

As the patient, you must prove that your doctor’s negligent actions caused or contributed to cause your illness or injury. In some cases where the patient is already suffering from an existing illness or injury, proving your doctor is at fault can be much more difficult.

(4) You Sustained Damages as a Result of Your Injury/Illness

To have a valid medical malpractice claim, you must sustain damages as the result of your illness or injury. If your medical malpractice lawyer proves that you sustained damages, you are entitled to recover losses for your medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and temporary or permanent disabilities, or the loss of normal enjoyment of life.

If you decide to sue a doctor for prescribing the wrong medication, you need legal representation by an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Your attorney can help you by assigning monetary damages to your injuries and can negotiate a fair settlement with your doctor’s insurance provider to ensure adequate compensation to cover all of your expenses and losses. If unable to reach a settlement, your attorney can file a lawsuit for the wrongdoing.

How to Sue a Doctor for Prescribing the Wrong Medication

The doctor is responsible for making sure correct medications are prescribed to his/her patients. The doctor is expected to perform due diligence to prevent any chance of prescription medication errors. When medication errors occur, a patient can suffer serious and permanent injuries, including:

  • Blindness
  • Brain damage
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Seizures
  • Strokes
  • Complications with existing medical conditions
  • Death

The complexity of medical malpractice claims requires a lawyer who handles these types of cases. The attorneys at Goldberg & Schulkin Law Offices work on a contingency basis for these types of cases, which means there are no upfront expenses to the injured party. In contingency cases, no costs are incurred until the case is won.

In addition, if your case is not successful and you do not receive any compensation for your injuries, there is nothing to pay. If your case is successful, most of the legal fees are paid by the defendant in the case, usually the doctor, the hospital, or the defendant’s insurance provider.

Before you decide to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against a medical professional, you should talk to an attorney can consider 5 important factors:

The Cost of Legal Proceedings

Legal actions can be costly and there is no assurance that you will win the case. If the probable cost and stress of your legal case are not worth it to you, talk to your attorney about seeking a fair settlement through arbitration or a settlement agreement.

The Strength of Your Evidence

Medical malpractice cases rely on strong evidence and expert testimony in court. Make sure you have strong evidence through well-documented medical records that show doctor’s visits, medical treatments, medical test results, prescription medications, and medical diagnoses and prognoses. Once your attorney takes your case, he/she will handle all legal aspects and consult with your doctor’s attorney or insurance provider on important matters and questions.

The Party or Parties You Should Sue

Before you sue a doctor for prescribing the wrong medication, make sure the doctor is responsible for giving you the wrong medication that caused your injuries. If you were in the hospital when medications were administered, the error may lie with hospital employees like nurses and caregivers. In some cases, doctors may also be hospital employees, so a lawsuit should be filed against the hospital.

Your Emotional Investment

When you decide to file a lawsuit in court, your emotional preparation can be just as important as your physical preparation. Your attorney will handle the trial preparation by gathering important medical records and other evidence to support your case. 

You will also have to be involved in the court trial. Your case may take weeks, months, or even years to resolve, depending on the circumstances involving malpractice or negligence, the severity of your injuries, and whether the case settles or goes to court. Before you commit, make sure you’re prepared for a potentially long emotional investment.

Time Limits for Filing Your Lawsuit

In Illinois, a medical malpractice claim generally must be filed within two years from the date of an incident causing injury or two years from the date the patient should reasonably have discovered the harm caused by his/her medical care.

If you’re concerned about the time limits for filing your lawsuit, discuss your concerns with your attorney. He/she can explain the filing requirements, guide you through the filing process, and ensure that your lawsuit is filed within the statutory time limits.

Deciding to sue a doctor for prescribing the wrong medication can be a big decision. Therefore, you will like want to know questions like can I sue a doctor for prescribing the wrong medication and how much will I get in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Before you file a medical malpractice lawsuit, schedule a consultation with a medical malpractice attorney who can address your questions and concerns.

Many medical negligence attorneys offer free consultations to discuss the case, as well as contingency fees to save you upfront expenses. Both of these conditions make it easier to file a lawsuit without dipping into your savings or stressing about a loan. Attorneys who take cases on a contingency basis usually know they have a strong case.

About The Author

Photo of Jeffrey  Schulkin
Attorney Jeffrey Schulkin, partner of Goldberg & Schulkin Law Offices, has spent his entire professional career handling cases involving birth injury, medical malpractice, product liability and related accidents.