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When Do Prescription Errors Become Medical Malpractice?


A doctor’s prescription is a powerful tool to help you recover from mild illnesses to severe diseases. But prescribed medications can affect different patients in vastly different ways, making this process complicated for even simple diagnoses.

Because of the many variables involved in patient care, doctors will never be perfect caretakers. However, if you suffer adverse side effects from incorrect or improperly administered prescription medication, you may be a victim of medical malpractice.

Proving Medical Malpractice


Before pursuing a medical malpractice claim against a medical professional, you need to be able to prove a few basic things:

  1. You entered a doctor-patient relationship
  2. The doctor or pharmacist was negligent
  3. The doctor or pharmacist’s negligence caused your injuries
  4. Your injuries resulted in specific damages

Perhaps the trickiest step in this process is demonstrating how the professional behaved negligently in writing or administering your prescription. In Indiana, a medical review panel will look over your case to determine whether or not the doctor was negligent before you will be allowed to pursue a lawsuit in court. Then, an expert witness must be able to testify that the medical professional being sued did not offer an appropriate medical standard of care.

To learn more about the basics of medical malpractice cases, see our article on what medical malpractice is and isn’t.

Possible Prescription Malpractice

When doctors provide an initial prescription for a patient’s condition, they consider the patient’s diagnosis, current state, and medical history. Failing to fully account for any one of these pieces could lead to an unhelpful or harmful prescription.

At this stage in the process, a doctor can be liable for errors that include:

  • Prescribing medication that is known to be a fatal allergen
  • Failing to warn patients about a drug’s known dangerous side effects
  • Prescribing the wrong dosage of the right medication

The margin of error allowed for writing a misguided prescription varies depending on the circumstances of each case. Some judges and juries may not award damages if a patient’s injuries are minor or reversible, whereas serious side effects that hinge on a tiny detail may receive full compensation. To find out if your case is eligible for malpractice damages, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney.

Errors at the Pharmacy

Your doctor isn’t the only person who handles your prescription before it reaches your medicine cabinet. Though the pharmacists who fill prescriptions are required to follow certain control standards, a negligent professional at this stage can be equally guilty of medical malpractice as a doctor.

Pharmacists are almost always found negligent if they commit gross errors, such as dispensing the wrong strength or the wrong prescription entirely. Indiana pharmacists can also be found negligent if they fail to recognize manufacturing errors on prescription labels, since they are considered trained professionals in a highly regulated industry.

Guidance from Experienced Indiana Attorneys

Navigating the complicated world of medical malpractice claims can be next to impossible on your own. If your condition developed or worsened because of a healthcare professional’s mistake, the last thing you should have to worry about is finding expert witnesses and filing paperwork.

A capable, experienced medical malpractice attorney can help recover damages from prescription malpractice claims while you focus on recovering your health. Contact Hensley Legal Group today for a free consultation of your case.