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Prescription drugs have the power to significantly improve people’s lives by easing their pain, reducing their symptoms, and curing their illnesses. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are more than 20,000 prescription drugs on the market in America. When doctors prescribe drugs to their patients, they must determine which ones will be the most effective while causing the fewest side effects.
But sometimes, doctors make mistakes when prescribing drugs. They may fail to take into account other drugs that patients are already taking, which can put them at risk of dangerous interactions. They also may fail to order the right dosage or frequency that patients should take their medications. And in some cases, doctors may even prescribe the wrong drugs entirely.
It’s important to trust your doctor, but it’s also important to be your own advocate. If you’ve already been taking the medication for a while, ask yourself whether your symptoms have improved. If the drug doesn’t seem to have any effect on your health, it may be because of a prescription error. This can also be the case if you’re experiencing serious negative side effects—especially if they don’t match up with ones your doctor told you to expect.
You can also use the National Institutes of Health’s Drug Information Portal to look up information about the drug you were prescribed before you even fill the prescription. You’ll find information including the drug’s most common usage, the FDA’s summary of the drug, the manufacturer’s label for the drug, and more.
The drug’s description and usage not matching up with your health problems can be a red flag, but it’s not always a sign of error or negligence. Some drugs are prescribed “off-label” to treat conditions that they aren’t publicized to treat, which means that you may not see your health condition associated with the drug when you research it.
Drugs may be prescribed for off-label use if there is no FDA-approved drug for the condition you need to treat, or, commonly, if children need treatment and the drugs available have only been tested and approved for adult use. But there is also a chance you were prescribed the wrong medication—and that should be corrected immediately.
If you suspect you were prescribed the wrong medication, whether you’ve been taking it for a while or you haven’t even filled the prescription yet, you should immediately call your doctor or schedule an appointment to see them right away. Tell them about your concerns and any conflicting information you found. This conversation can help you understand if your prescription is being used off-label or if you need a new prescription.
Sometimes, medication errors occur at the pharmacy. Your doctor may have prescribed you the correct medication, but there was a mix-up at the pharmacy, and either the pharmacist read the prescription incorrectly or gave you the wrong medication by mistake. Verifying your prescription information with your pharmacist is an effective way to double-check that you received the correct medication or if you have the wrong drug.
Prescription medication errors are serious and can even be fatal. When patients take dosages that are too high or too low for their body’s needs and the severity of their illnesses, they can either experience severe complications or receive no benefit at all. And when patients are prescribed or given the wrong medications entirely, they can go weeks or months without treating their health problems while suffering unnecessary side effects.
Calling a lawyer can help you determine what your next steps should be and whether you may have a medical malpractice claim. People who are prescribed the wrong medications can suffer not just physically and emotionally, but also financially. Their illnesses may progress, requiring more treatment and surgeries that could have been avoided with the right prescription when they were originally diagnosed.
At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, our Ohio medical malpractice lawyers know the power that prescription medications can have on people for both good and bad. It’s both dangerous and frustrating when patients don’t get exactly the right dosage for their bodies and their illnesses, let alone when they get the wrong medications altogether.
Contact us for a free consultation if you were prescribed or received the wrong medication. We’ll investigate what happened and determine if your doctor, hospital, or pharmacy was negligent at any step between your diagnosis and receiving your prescription.
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