Medication errors

Medication Errors and Your Legal Rights

The consequences of prescription medication errors can be very serious, and in some cases result in permanent injury or death. Recently, there have been several well publicized news stories in Canada about the terrible consequences of errors by medical professionals when prescribing and dispensing prescription drugs.

Canadian initiatives to combat prescription drug errors

Since all medical services are administered provincially in Canada, there is no national standard for reporting or recording incidents of medication errors. A voluntary system is in place for medical professionals to anonymously report medication incidents. Only Nova Scotia has a mandatory reporting requirement for any medication errors by pharmacists, and the majority of those reported are “near misses” in which the error was caught before it reached the patient.

After the tragic death of an 8-year-old Mississauga resident, Andrew Sheldrick, in March 2016 following a pharmacy error, his family have been calling for implementation of a mandatory, nation-wide system to track medication errors and near misses. The Ontario government has responded positively to this, but no concrete measures have been suggested to date.

Machine learning to prevent medication errors

Last month, an Israeli company called MedAware publicized a tool it has developed that uses machine learning to identify prescription errors as they happen. They have developed algorithms that learn to identify common mistakes made by physicians, nurses and pharmacists as they are writing and filling prescriptions. By building an understanding of common patterns of medication use, the artificial intelligence can flag any prescriptions that fall outside of the expected parameters. These potential mistakes can then be manually examined to confirm or deny the medication error.

Legal options in the event of medication error

Despite these advances, we are still a long way from ensuring that our prescriptions are correct through artificial intelligence. Medical professionals are not held to a standard of perfection, and are not always responsible for making a mistake. However, if there was carelessness or negligence on the part of a medical professional that resulted in you or your family member taking the wrong medication, you may have grounds for a legal claim.

Although rare, medication errors can result in serious personal injuries that impact our day-to-day lives and loved ones. In the worst cases, taking the wrong medication can lead to hospitalization, time off work and long-term disabilities. At Derfel Injury Law, we have experience handling claims arising from medical and pharmacy errors, and can advise you about your options if you have been injured after a medication error. A claim in negligence can help you obtain compensation for treatment costs, care giving, time off work, or other expenses.

Contact us online or call 416-847-3580 to schedule an appointment with one of our lawyers.