Claiming Compensation For Prescription Errors In Hospitals

By Lewis Houston. Last Updated 13th January 2023. This is a guide on claiming compensation for prescription errors in hospitals. In this article, we look at what a prescription error could be and the effects it could have. This guide will also address how you could claim compensation if this has happened as the result of medical negligence. 

All medical professionals have a duty of care to provide a minimum standard of care to patients. When they don’t adhere to this duty of care, patients could come to harm. 

Prescription errors in hospitals claims guide

Prescription errors in hospitals claims guide

In some cases, a prescription error could occur even if the medical professional in question is adhering to their duty of care. If this occurs, you would not be entitled to claim compensation. 

Read on to learn more about claiming compensation for prescription errors in a hospital. If you would like to speak to someone directly about starting a claim, our team of advisors are available 24/7 to provide free legal advice. They can connect you with a specialised medical negligence solicitor from our panel, who can help you start your claim today. 

To find out more:

Select A Section

  1. What Are Prescription Errors In Hospitals?
  2. Common Prescription Errors In Hospitals
  3. What Are The Effects Of Medication Errors In Hospitals?
  4. Claiming Compensation For A Prescription Error In A Hospital
  5. Compensation For Hospital Negligence – Example Payouts
  6. Start A No Win No Fee Claim Now

What Are Prescription Errors In Hospitals?

A medication error could be caused by a range of different reasons. This might include a lack of knowledge, not adhering to rules, wrongful action or memory lapses. 

For example, a doctor could prescribe medication to the patient without knowing that patient is allergic because they’ve failed to check their medical records. This could lead to a severe allergic reaction. 

Some medication needs to be administered in a specific way, for example, intravenously or at a certain time of day. If this is not done, it could cause health issues for the patient. 

In some situations, a doctor could type in the wrong abbreviation for a prescription or input the wrong dosage amount without realising it. This could lead to the patient taking the wrong medication or the wrong amount of medication, which could have a negative impact on their health. 

Finally, some prescription errors may be caused by a lapse in memory. For example, a nurse might forget that they have already administered a patient with a dose of medication and give them another one. This could result in an overdose, which could make the patient ill. 

Medical negligence can cause prescription errors in hospitals. If you’ve experienced medical negligence and it’s had a negative effect on your health, you could be entitled to make a claim.

Is A Medication Error A Negligence?

Not all medication errors could be considered negligence. If your doctor acted within their duty of care, but complications still arose in relation to medical care, you would not be able to claim.

Also, to make a valid medical negligence case, you must prove that you came to some form of harm due to negligence. For example, if a doctor prescribed the wrong medication, but it had no effect on your health, you would not be able to claim compensation. 

Common Prescription Errors In Hospitals

Some examples of common prescription errors in hospitals could include:

  • Prescribing – If the patient is prescribed something inappropriate for their condition.
  • Omission – If the patient is not prescribed or administered something they should have been.
  • Wrong time – The patient may have taken medication at the wrong time. 
  • Unauthorised drug – If the patient is prescribed something they should not have. 
  • Improper dose – The wrong dosage is administered.
  • The drug is given to the wrong patient – Where one patient accidentally receives medication that was meant for another.

If you’ve come to harm due to one of these common prescription errors in hospitals, get in touch today to find out how to claim. 

What Percentage Of Hospital Prescriptions Are Erroneous?

According to a 2009 study out of 6605 medication orders across three organisations/hospitals, 1025 prescribing errors were identified amongst 974 orders. 

The study also discovered a higher error rate on medical admissions wards, at 16.3%, than on surgical wards, which had an error rate of 12.2%.

Contributing factors included a lack of feedback on the errors, lack of information on patients’ medication histories, and poor documentation and communication of prescription decisions. 


Hospital Prescription Error Statistics

Please see below for a chart showing how much NHS Resolution paid in medical error claims between the financial years 2013/14 to 2018/19. These figures are taken from a Freedom of Information Request on medical errors. There were a different number of claims each year. 

  • 2013/14 – 91
  • 2014/15 – 113
  • 2015/16 – 100
  • 2016/17 – 142
  • 2017/18 – 128
  • 2018/19 – 133

What Are The Effects Of Medication Errors In Hospitals?

Medication errors in hospitals could have various negative effects on a patient. You could possibly suffer from an adverse drug reaction. According to the NHS, an adverse drug reaction is a response to a medicinal product that results in unintended effects due to medication errors, unauthorised use at normal doses or misuse and abuse. 

The serious reactions listed include:

  • Accidental death
  • Disability
  • Incapacitation
  • Congenital abnormalities, for example, if you’re prescribed the wrong medication while pregnant
  • Prolonged hospitalisation

Experiencing prescription errors in hospitals could potentially severely disrupt the recovery and care of patients, leading to unexpected side effects and a possible exacerbation of any pre-existing injuries or illnesses. 

Claiming Compensation For A Prescription Error In A Hospital

If you have suffered harm due to a prescription error in the hospital, you may wish to seek medical treatment. You could get a second opinion from a different medical professional

Once you have done this, you may wish to start gathering evidence to help support your claim. You can do this independently, but a solicitor can help you understand what evidence will strengthen your case. Some examples of evidence could include:

  • Medical records, such as records of any prescriptions or treatments
  • Relevant correspondences
  • Contact details of any witnesses
  • Photographs, if applicable

You may also wish to make a formal complaint to the NHS if this is the organisation where your medical negligence occurred. You should normally do this within 12 months of the incident, though there is flexibility if you provide good reasoning for not making the complaint sooner.

If you make a formal complaint, it’s possible you could receive an apology for the substandard care you experienced, and you could potentially improve services for future patients. 

Time Limits

Under the Limitation Act 1980, you must start your claim within 3 years from the date of the incident or the date you became aware the incident had affected you. There are exceptions for cases where the claimant is a child or an adult with limited mental capacity. 

For more information on the details of these exceptions, speak with one of our advisors. You could receive free legal advice about the process of claiming.

Compensation For Hospital Negligence – Example Payouts

Compensation for hospital negligence could be made up of two heads of compensation, including:

  • General damages to cover the physical or mental health injuries caused by the medical negligence as well as the impact the injuries have had on your quality of living and your ability to work or do activities that you usually would.
  • Special damages compensate for any financial losses or expenses incurred as a result of negligent medical treatment.

When calculating general damages, a solicitor can use the figures listed in the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). It features figures that are influenced by previous settlements awarded in court. We have taken some examples of potential medical negligence injuries from the JCG to create the table below and give you some insight into the value of general damages for medical negligence claims.

Injury Severity Amount Notes
Sight (B) In the region of
Total blindness.
Brain Moderate (i) £150,110 to £219,070 Moderate to severe intellectual deficit, effected sight, speech and senses, personality change and a significant risk of epilepsy.
Lung Disease (A) £100,670 to £135,920 For a young person with a serious disability where there is a probability of the condition worsening progressively until a premature death.
Deafness (B) £90,750 to £109,650 Total deafness. For higher compensation amounts, there will be a related speech deficit and/or tinnitus.
Bladder (C) £63,980 to
Serious impairment of control with some related pain and incontinence.
Kidney (A) £30,770 to
Loss of one kidney but no damage to the other.
Asthma (B) £26,290 to £43,010 The asthma will be chronic, and will cause breathing difficulties. An inhaler will be needed, and employmenet prospects may be restricted.
Spleen (A) £20,800 to
Where the spleen is lost and there’s a continuing risk of internal infection and disorders because the immune system has been damaged.
PTSD Moderate £8,180 to £23,150


Claimant will have largely recovered with no consequences remaining that are disabling.
Psychiatric Less Severe £1,540 to £5,860 The extent daily activities and sleep were affected will be taken into account, as will the length of the condition.

Please remember to only use the figures above as guidelines. A specialist medical negligence solicitor from our panel could assess both your general and special damages to work out a more accurate value of your claim. Get in touch with our advisors for further information about hospital compensation.

Start A No Win No Fee Claim Now

Seeking legal representation for your medication error claim could give your case the best chance of success. However, there are fees to consider when hiring a solicitor. 

You should know that the solicitors on our panel offer their services on a No Win No Fee basis. But what does this mean?

  • No ongoing or upfront payments
  • You only pay your lawyer if your claim succeeds – this is a legally capped success fee
  • Not paying your solicitor at all if your claim is unsuccessful

If a No Win No Fee agreement sounds beneficial to you, get in touch with our team of advisors today to find out more. They can offer free legal guidance and could also connect you with a solicitor from our panel to help you with your claim. 

Help For Victims Of Clinical Negligence

Thank you for reading our guide about prescription errors in hospitals. We hope it was helpful. For further support, please see below. 

How Much Money Can You Get For Medical Negligence? – Our guide to how much you could receive in a medical negligence claim.

How Long Does a Medical Negligence Case Take? – An article looking at how long a medical negligence case could take. 

Sepsis Claims – Learn how to claim if you’ve suffered sepsis due to clinical negligence. 

NHS Compensation Payouts and How To Claim – This guide will help you understand how much compensation you can get for a claim from the NHS.

Medicines Act 1968 – This legislation outlines which medicines can be prescription only. 

Prescriptions and Pharmacies – Find out more about NHS prescriptions and pharmacies. 

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) – This is the government’s guide to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) eligibility.

Thank you for reading our guide about prescription errors in hospitals. 

Guide by AO

Publisher ET