How doctors can reduce the risk for medication errors
Doctors in Florida, especially those who frequently prescribe painkillers and antibiotics, should know that medication errors are a common hazard. According to FDA estimates, 1.3 million people in the U.S. are injured every year as a result of medication errors. These mistakes can arise in the prescription, dispensing or administration stage, or they can be errors in the administration records.
There are some basic protocols to limiting liability. For instance, specialists who can prescribe painkillers (such as oral surgeons and podiatrists) should beware of patients obtaining drugs from multiple sources. The state has an online database tracking all controlled substance prescriptions; doctors can refer to this.
A doctor may also want to ask a patient directly about their other medications or try to obtain authorization for checking the patient’s other doctors. If the patient is evasive and refuses that authorization, they should be dismissed.
Renewing pain medication after 90 days should never be done without having the patient visit the office. It could be advisable to refer a patient to a pain specialist if their condition does not improve after 90 days of painkillers.
In all cases, documentation is essential. For example, a doctor could prescribe a narrow-spectrum antibiotic for practical reasons or out of a gut instinct. Every step in the doctor’s reasoning should be laid out for future reference.
If a doctor fails to live up to the objective standard of care and causes a medication error, the victim may be able to build a medical malpractice case. A successful claim could compensate one for medical expenses, lost wages, diminished earning capacity, pain and suffering and more. However, it’s a good idea to retain legal counsel. A lawyer could hire medical experts to measure the extent of the injuries and investigators to gather proof of negligence. From there, the lawyer may handle all negotiations.