February 19, 2024
Sodium Valproate (Epilim) Inquiry
In November 2020, the Minister for Health, Mr Stephen Donnelly, announced that an inquiry would take place into the historical licensing and use of the epilepsy drug Sodium Valproate (also...
Medication is core to the treatment of physical and psychological injury and disease across our health system, and as such, prescription medicines are taken by approximately 40 – 50% of the Irish population.
To meet this need, there are thousands of variants of medication, each with their own benefits and potential side effects.
Specialist medical publications, such as the Monthly Index of Medical Specialities (MIMS) Ireland are used by GPs and other physicians as a guide to ensure the correct medications and dosages are prescribed to patients.
Medical practitioners have a duty of care to ensure the correct medicine is given, in the correct dosage, to the correct individual. Any errors at any point in the process, between determining and diagnosis, prescribing, and dispensing can have considerable health implications.
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We have both the legal expertise and understanding of the real-life challenges faced by individuals and their families following such events. Our solicitors will manage the process entirely on your behalf; compiling the information necessary for your case, including medical notes and managing the submission of your medical negligence claim.
Medication errors can occur in a number of ways:
Failure to explain side effects
Your doctor should explain the side effects of the medication they are prescribing. Failure to do so may put you at risk of health complications. For example, some drugs may make you tired, hence you should not drive or operate machinery, whereas others cannot be taken with alcohol or narcotics.
Prescribing physicians must follow the dosage guidelines provided by the drug manufacturer, including details on when and how to take the medication. If a doctor misreads the dosage or uses the incorrect unit of measurement (e.g. mcg or mg), then this can have serious consequences. An error may occur similarly when writing the prescription, or when it is read by the dispensary. Errors related to handwriting are less common due to the rise in electronic prescribing.
Dispensing the wrong medication
Errors may occur at the point the pharmacy dispensary prepares your medication. They may issue the wrong drug, provide incorrect dosage information, or give the wrong medication to the wrong patient.
Incorrect prescription duration
Drugs taken for too long can have serious health consequences. Similarly, if a dosage is too small, the condition the medication was intended to treat may not be fully remedied.
Any prescribing physician should do all they realistically can to ensure an allergic reaction does not occur. Any existing allergy should be captured on your medical notes, and therefore should be referenced by your doctor. In doing so, they can prescribe an alternative medication. A common example is that of penicillin – many patients are allergic to this anti-biotic; therefore, alternatives must be offered.
If you are taking more than one drug, even if one is non-prescription, your doctor must check whether it is safe for you to do so. Some medications when mixed with others can have serious health consequences – either by combining to have an additional negative effect (e.g. suppressing the immune system) or by rendering the drugs ineffective.
To bring a claim for a medication error, it will be necessary to provide evidence that:
To prove your case, we will compile evidence, including medical records, and seek expert medical opinion.
Claims following a medication error which leads to injury or disease may cover two areas of loss:
By allowing us to handle your claim on your behalf, you can focus on what is most important – your recovery and care, or that of your family member or loved one.
At Lavelle Partners LLP, we have worked with many clients who have suffered serious medical negligence, successfully bringing claims on their behalf where it was due to negligence by another party. Here are some of our recent cases.
For further information on making a claim following an injury due to a medication error in Ireland, please contact Lavelle Partners in confidence on (01) 644 5800 or email Avril Scally at email@example.com
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement. This statement is made in compliance with RE.8 of SI 518 of 2002.
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