Medication Errors

Medication Errors

Choose a Qualified Massachusetts Medication Error Attorney

Every year, approximately 1.3 million people in the U.S. are harmed as a result of medical malpractice caused by medication errors. Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston has over 100 years combined experienced handling these cases which can cause serious injury and death. Medication errors can happen when:

  • The wrong medication is prescribed or administered.
  • The wrong amount – too little or too large of a dosage – is prescribed or administered.
  • A healthcare professional fails to administer medication in a timely manner, or forgets to administer the drugs altogether.
  • A healthcare professional fails to take a thorough patient history, or check for drug interactions, allergies or relevant lab results.
  • A doctor’s handwriting is incorrectly translated by a pharmacist or nurse.
  • The pharmacist misreads the prescribed dose (misses the decimal point) and gives a drug overdose.
  • A healthcare professional mistakenly confuses two drugs with similar names.
  • Prescription drugs are incorrectly labeled.
  • A doctor recklessly prescribes drugs to a patient with a history of prescription medication abuse.
  • Nursing home medication errors can occur when the staff fails to check the patient’s chart  or fails to log essential activities, such as when a patient took certain medications.

The National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention defines a medication error as “any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient, or consumer.” Medication errors may be made by the doctor, the pharmacist, or the nurse giving the medication. Severe medication errors may cause wrongful death.

Who Is At Risk?

Everyone who takes prescription medications is at risk for medication error.  However, a recent FDA study found that almost half of the fatal medication errors occurred in people over the age of 60.  Therefore, the elderly are at greatest risk of the most serious harm because they often take multiple prescription medications.

How do I prevent medication errors?

Be proactive. Ask your doctor about the drugs they prescribe to you, educate yourself about the medication, and be sure to provide your doctor with a thorough and comprehensive medical history. Visit the non-profit Institute for Safe Medicine Practices to learn more about preventing medication errors at You should also double check prescription labels to make sure that you are receiving the correct medication in the proper dose.  If you have any questions, contact your pharmacist or physician at once.

We Have Experience with Medication Errors

Our firm has experience handling Massachusetts medication error cases. Here are two examples:

  • A forty-three year old man was admitted to the emergency department for assessment and treatment of severe low back pain. He was given multiple injections of the opioid Dilaudid, a powerful pain killer, and Ativan, a sedative. Although the hospital staff noted warning signs of respiratory depression, including sleepiness and difficulty arousing the patient, the severe complication he was facing was not addressed. His wife found him blue and unresponsive. The Code Blue failed to revive him. The family received a $2.25 million settlement. Read the Complete Case Report.
  • A twelve-year old girl who had Down syndrome was scheduled to have an MRI to rule out seizure activity. A sedative was prescribed, but the dosing was incorrectly transcribed. Neither the attending nurse nor the pharmacist failed to recognize the obvious mistake. The overdose caused cardiac arrest and severe brain damage, resulting in death two days later. The family received a $2 million settlement. Read the Complete Case Report.

Our Case Reports page describes other medication errors we have handled.

What if I have been harmed as a result of a medication error?

It is vital that you act immediately to protect your rights, as Massachusetts has strict statutes of limitations for prescription error and medical malpractice cases. To make a clear determination about whether or not you have a claim, our medical malpractice team will need to thoroughly review relevant medical records and consult with qualified medical experts.

Please call us toll free at 1-800-379-1244, or use our contact form.