Can I Claim Compensation For A Medication Error?

By Jo McKenzie. Last Updated 7th July 2023. This is our medical negligence claims guide on the topic of claiming for a medication error. Medical negligence (also known as clinical negligence) can be defined as a medical professional administering inadequate care to a patient.

Medical professionals have a duty of care towards their patients. If a deviation from the standard of care causes an unnecessary negative impact on the health of a patient, then this could form the basis of a clinical negligence claim. In some cases, mistakes that are made regarding medication can be fatal

medication error claims guide

Medication error claims guide

We’ll be able to give you a better idea of whether or not you could be owed compensation once we have spoken to you directly. If we believe your claim to be valid, we could connect you to an experienced clinical negligence solicitor to get you started on your claims process. However, there is no obligation to take this step just by speaking to us. 

Read on for more information, and reach out to us using one of the following methods.

Select A Section

  1. What Are Medication Errors?
  2. Causes Of Prescription Errors In Healthcare
  3. Where Could A Medication Error Happen
  4. Am I Eligible To Claim Compensation For A Prescription Error?
  5. How Much Compensation For A Medication Error Could I Claim?
  6. Begin A No Win No Fee Prescription Error Claim

What Are Medication Errors?

A medication error is an umbrella term used to describe an error that occurs in the prescribing, preparing, dispensing,
administering, monitoring or providing advice on medicines. 

Sometimes, this kind of error might occur when the medical professional is adhering to the expected standard of care. For example, they might misdiagnose a patient because the patient was not exhibiting the typical symptoms of their condition. This could result in the patient receiving the wrong medication.

However, an error relating to medication could also occur as the result of negligence. For example, a doctor might make a spelling mistake on a prescription, which results in the wrong medication being dispensed.

Furthermore, experiencing this kind of error as the result of negligence might not entitle you to claim. You would only be able to claim if the error caused you harm. If you were prescribed the wrong medication, even as a result of negligence, and this did not have any adverse effect on your health, you would not be able to claim.

If a patient is given the wrong medication, not only could the medication itself have adverse effects on the patient’s health, it could also mean that the condition that they do have is not being properly treated. This could cause it to progress past the point that it would have if the correct standard of care had been met. 

Eligibility For Medical Negligence Claims

There are certain criteria your case must meet to be eligible to make a medical negligence claim. This is:

  1. A medical professional owed you a duty of care.
  2. The professional must have breached this duty.
  3. You must have suffered unnecessary harm due to the breach.

Every medical professional owes their patients a duty of care. Per their duty of care, they must provide their patients with the correct standard of care. Should a medical professional fail to adhere to their duty of care, this could result in you suffering unnecessary harm, and you may be able to make a claim for compensation.

However, not all medication error compensation claims could lead to a settlement. There may be certain instances where you suffer harm, but a medical professional adhered to their standard of care. For example, if you suffer an allergic reaction to a new medication, but neither you nor your doctor were aware of this allergy, you might not be able to make a claim.

To check whether you might have a valid claim, you can get in touch with an advisor. They would be able to provide further insight into medical negligence claims.

Causes Of Medication Errors In Healthcare

As mentioned earlier, there is more than one kind of error that can be made regarding medication. In this section, we’ll be listing a few. However, this is not an exhaustive list.

Your circumstances could still constitute medical negligence, however. Just because your circumstances don’t appear below doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ineligible to pursue a claim.

  • Wrong time – some medications are time-sensitive. For example, you might need to wait a certain amount of time between two doses. If you’re administered the medication too early or too late, then this could have an adverse effect on your health. 
  • Incorrect dose – if the dose is too low, then the patient’s condition might not be treated. If it’s too high, they might have an adverse reaction to the dosage. 
  • Wrong drug – if a patient is given a drug they are known to be allergic to, then this could negatively affect their health. Furthermore, if they’re given the wrong drug, their condition might not be treated and get worse as a result, even if they don’t react adversely to the drug they are given.
  • Admin errors – Admin errors could result in a range of different types of errors relating to medicine. For example, you might receive the wrong dosage of a drug because of a mistype on a system. Alternatively, you might be given the wrong drug altogether if the wrong prescription is taken from the shelf.
  • Wrong patient – some mix-ups could even result in a prescription being delivered and even administered to the wrong patient. Both patients in the mix-up could suffer as a result of this.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you want to clarify whether what you experienced could be described as a medication error. 

Where Could A Medication Error Happen

In this section, we take a look at some of the scenarios where a medication or prescription error could take place.

Hospitals

Various procedures and treatments take place at a hospital that may require a prescription. It’s not only doctors and nurses that handle and process prescriptions, but other members of hospital staff such as pharmacists too. 

Medication error claims can also be made for medication related to elective surgeries such as breast augmentation and other cosmetic procedures. You may require prescription painkillers during your recovery. A medical professional in this field owes their patients the same duty of care. If this duty of care is breached in relation to medication and you’re harmed as a result, you might be able to claim. 

Nursing Homes 

Nursing homes always have a registered nurse on-site to provide treatment. Registered nurses are also able to prescribe medication.

Prescription errors in nursing homes can occur in the same way as in other circumstances. For example, a nurse might fail to administer medication at the correct time, or in the correct dose. They might mix up medication between two patients, affecting the health of both patients.

Pharmacies

Pharmacists are responsible for dispensing prescription medications. It’s possible that they could be delivered the correct prescription, but accidentally dispense the wrong medication. 

If you taking the incorrect medication as the result of a pharmacy error caused you harm, then you may be able to claim. 

Am I Eligible To Claim Compensation?

There are a few different criteria that must be met in order to make a claim for compensation. We’ll address them in this section.

Time Limits

Generally, you have 3 years from the date of your injury or illness to start your claim. This time limit is stated in the Limitation Act 1980. However, this time limit can vary in some scenarios. 

In some cases, the 3-year time limit can run from something called the “date of knowledge”. This is the date that you knew (or would have been expected to know) that your symptoms were caused by negligence. 

Another exception to the time limit is if someone under the age of 18 was harmed by a medication error caused by negligence. Children cannot make their own claims. Because of this, their time limit is suspended and only begins on their 18th birthday. In the meantime, a trusted adult such as a parent or guardian can make a claim on their behalf at any point as a litigation friend.

A litigation friend can also claim on the behalf of someone with a reduced mental capacity. As with child injuries, those who lack the mental capacity to claim have their time limit suspended too. It will only begin if they regain their mental capacity. Otherwise, it’s suspended indefinitely. 

NHS And Private Healthcare

It doesn’t matter whether you received treatment in a National Health Service (NHS) facility, or if you received private healthcare. The medical professionals in either setting have the same duty of care to their patients.

In other words, you could still claim in either scenario if your health is affected by a medication error. 

Wrong Medication Prescribed – Evidence You’ll Need To Claim

If you wish to claim for harm caused after the wrong medication was prescribed, you’ll need evidence to support that medical negligence has occurred and you suffered harm as a result.

If you are wondering what evidence you might collect, we’ve listed some examples below:

  • A letter of complaint – Medical facilities usually operate an internal complaint procedure; if you complain to them about your treatment, you could use this correspondence as evidence.
  • Medical evidence – For example, hospital records or notes from your doctor can prove any injuries that you have suffered from having the wrong medication.
  • Financial evidence – If you pay for your medication, retain your receipts as evidence of your loss.

Our advisors can answer your questions on compensation for hospital negligence or medication errors in the UK. They are available to speak to 24/7, so get in touch at a time that is most convenient for you.

How Much Compensation For A Medication Error Could I Claim?

This section focuses on how compensation can be calculated for injuries sustained in a matter of medical negligence such as this. The sum that is awarded to you for any physical or mental injuries is called general damages.

Legal professionals will use a publication called the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) to assist them in the valuation process. The JCG contains a list of injuries and illnesses that could be caused by negligent behaviour. Alongside each description is a range of figures based on what’s been awarded in similar cases in the past.

We’ve included some example entries from the JCG in the table below.

Edit
Awarded For Description Amount
Infertility: Female (a) Due to injury or disease. Pain, anxiety, depression £114,900 to
£170,280
Epilepsy (B)(a) Established Grand Mal £102,000 to £150,110

Bladder (c) Control seriously impaired with some pain £63,980 to
£79,930
Effect on sight (e) Complete blindness in one eye £49,270 to £54,830

Illness (i) Severe – hospital admission required for days/weeks due to pain and other things that affect the ability to work and enjoyment £38,430 to
£52,500
Illness (ii) Serious, but short-lived – things like bowel function and sex life will be impacted £9,540 to
£19,200

Illness (iii) Significant discomfort – cramps, fatigue £3,950 to
£9,540

Illness (iv) Days or weeks of pain, cramps £910 to
£3,950

Mental anguish (E) When the patient thinks they may die, or have their lifespan reduced £4,670
Psychiatric damage (d) Less severe – when daily activities like sleep are affected £1,540 to £5,860

There can also be a second head of loss included in your claim, referred to as special damages. This figure is calculated to reimburse you for any financial losses that can be attributed to your injury. You will need evidence to prove that these losses took place.

Some examples include:

  • Medical bills – things like specialist care that the NHS do not provide for free.
  • Loss of enjoyment – for example, if you are unable to go on a holiday that was already booked, due to your condition.
  • Loss of earningsif you miss time at work due to your injuries.

Reach out today to find out what else could be included in a special damages payment. If you have a valid medication error claim, you could be connected with a No Win No Fee solicitor from our panel. 

Begin A No Win No Fee Medical Negligence Claim

All of the solicitors on our panel work on a No Win No Fee basis. This means that should you choose to enlist their services, you won’t be required to pay them if your claim is unsuccessful. You also won’t need to pay any upfront or ongoing fees to them. 

If your No Win No Fee claim is successful and you are awarded compensation, then your lawyer is paid via a small, legally-capped fee from your settlement. 

It’s that simple. To find out if you could make a No Win No Fee claim, get in touch today.

Clinical Negligence Resources

Follow the links below for more information on this subject and related topics.

  1. The NHS Annual Resolution Report – general clinical negligence statistics.
  2. The General Medical Council outline the duties of a doctor.
  3. An NHS report on errors relating to medication.
  4. When you can sue your doctor for negligence.
  5. Our guide on how long a medical negligence claim can take.
  6. Another of our articles on the topic of claiming for accidental death.

Thank you for taking the time to read our guide on claims for a medication error.

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