Can I Sue My Doctor for Prescribing the Wrong Medication?
It is a sad fact that doctors are not perfect. Indeed, medical mistakes now stand as the third leading cause of death in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of people either die or suffer serious injuries because of medical negligence.
As a leading North Carolina medical malpractice firm, one common question we receive is, “Can I sue a doctor for prescribing wrong medication?” The answer is “possibly.” Before you can know for sure, you will need to analyze the surrounding circumstances with an experienced attorney.
Elements of a Negligence Case
Most wrong medication lawsuits are brought for negligence, meaning the doctor did not use the skill and care that a competent doctor would. There are four elements to any negligence claim:
- You had a doctor-patient relationship. This means the doctor agreed to treat you and you agreed to be a patient.
- The doctor did not follow the correct medical standard of care when treating you. Basically, the doctor made a mistake a careful doctor wouldn’t have.
- You suffered actual harm. Harms are usually physical—e.g., you had a stroke, got cancer, became paralyzed, or a loved one died.
- The doctor’s failure to follow the standard of care caused your harm. If something else caused your harm, then the doctor isn’t to blame.
These four elements are required. If you are missing one, then you don’t have a legal case against the doctor.
Many people call us up to complain that a doctor gave them pills that did not work. They might even have been the wrong pills to prescribe. However, unless you suffered actual harm, you don’t have a lawsuit. For example, the doctor might have realized the mistake quickly and given you the right medication, or you might have improved anyways. Unless you suffered actual harm, though, you don’t have a legal claim.
Proving the Correct Standard of Care & Causation
Most people do not know what medication a doctor should prescribe in any given situation. They aren’t doctors, after all.
However, to prevail in a lawsuit, you must establish what a reasonably careful doctor would have given a patient like you if the circumstances were the same. To do this, many times you need a medical expert to testify. This person can explain what medication a doctor should have prescribed. Sometimes, doctors have a choice, so there is not always one “right” answer. But the expert can identify if the doctor gave you the wrong medication based on the facts known, such as your allergies or any pre-existing condition.
A medical expert can also helpfully establish causation. If a doctor prescribes a medication and you suddenly are paralyzed, you need to establish that the medicine caused the paralysis. If it didn’t, then you probably can’t sue your doctor for negligence.
When wrong medication is given to patient, tragedy can strike. Patients can become gravely ill or even die. In North Carolina, you can receive compensation from the doctor who makes a prescription medication error. Many of our clients have received money to pay for the additional medical care they needed, as well as any lost wages if the mistake forced them out of work for any amount of time.
Our clients might also qualify for pain and suffering damages. These are harder to calculate, but you should meet with an attorney to discuss your case. When a person’s injuries are catastrophic, they can often receive a large sum in compensation for pain and suffering.
Things are slightly different if a loved one died as a result of the prescription error. In that case, you might be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the doctor and receive compensation for:
- Lost income
- Burial and funeral expenses
- The medical bills your loved one incurred before death
- Any pain and suffering your loved one endured
- The loss of companionship, society, and guidance
- The loss of any services your loved one provided
Each case is different. For help estimating the amount of money you can receive, you should schedule a consultation with a medical malpractice lawyer.
Contact an Experienced Attorney Today
If a doctor prescribed wrong medication to you or a loved one, reach out to Dawson & Albritton today. We are a leading medical malpractice law firm in North Carolina, and we have the results to back up our reputation. One of our attorneys is happy to meet with you for a free consultation, which you can set up by calling 252-752-2485. Avoid delay.