Death Caused By The Wrong Medication – How Much Could You Claim?

A visit to a doctor, hospital or pharmacy is usually made in the hope that they’ll treat an illness and make the patient better. In lots of cases, that’s what happens, and the patient recovers after being given medication or undergoing treatment. However, if mistakes happen, and the wrong medication is given a patient could suffer as a result. In the very worst cases, the mistake could cause an adverse drug reaction which could be fatal. Therefore, in this guide, we’re going to look at claiming compensation for a death caused by the wrong medication.

Death caused by wrong medication

Death caused by wrong medication

We’ll look at who is eligible to make a claim, what type of mistakes could happen and the time limits for claiming. We’ll also discuss what amount of compensation might be paid.

Negligent medication errors that cause suffering are a form of medical negligence. These cases can be particularly hard to prove and require complex medical evidence. Medical Negligence Assist could help you begin a claim by reviewing your case on a no-obligation basis. We also provide free legal advice about your options. If your claim is strong enough, we could refer you to a medical negligence solicitor from our panel who’ll provide a No Win, No Fee service.

To begin your claim right away, please call 0800 652 3087 today. Alternatively, to find out more about claiming when the wrong medication caused a death, please carry on reading.

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A Guide To Making A Claim For A Death Caused By The Wrong Medication

Medical professionals have a duty of care to ensure their patient’s safety wherever possible. If they breach that duty of care and a patient suffers as a result, then the patient could be eligible to claim compensation. If the patient dies as a result of the negligence, a compensation claim could still be possible. In these cases, the victim’s estate or loved ones could be eligible to claim compensation. We’ll look at who can claim and what for in more detail later in this guide.

There are a number of points at which a medication error could potentially occur. We’ll, therefore, review potential GP errors, possible hospital and pharmacy errors which could result in a death caused by the wrong medication.

Due to the complexity of these types of claims, we’d advise that you have a specialist medical negligence lawyer working for you. Our panel of solicitors have years of experience handling medical negligence claims and could help you on a No Win, No Fee basis. We’ll discuss the time limits for claiming later on but we’d always advise you to seek legal advice as soon as possible to allow your solicitor enough time to compile your claim.

To make a wrongful death claim, you’ll need to provide evidence of what happened. Expert witnesses will then review the evidence and explain how the medical professional’s negligence caused the death of your loved one. The solicitors on our panel will help you collect and collate the evidence you’ll require as part of their No Win, No Fee service.

We understand how difficult it will be to discuss the death of a loved one with a stranger so, when you contact us, we’ll work at your pace and won’t pressure you in any way.

What Are Deaths Caused By The Wrong Medication?

A death caused by the wrong medication is where a patient has the wrong medication prescribed, dispensed or administered and dies as a result. Here are some scenarios where death due to the wrong medication could occur:

  • If a patient is given the wrong medication that contains something they’re allergic to, then they could suffer a fatal reaction.
  • In some cases, the medicine that was given might not be the cause of death. There may be no adverse reaction but the death could be as a result of the fact they weren’t taking the medication prescribed which could’ve cured their illness.
  • Finally, an adverse drug reaction could occur if the medication prescribed interacted with another medication the patient was taking.

There may be other scenarios where the wrong medication can cause a fatality.

Types Of Fatal Wrong Medication Negligence

Death due to the wrong medication could potentially be caused by a number of different forms of negligence. These include:

  • When the wrong medication is dispensed.
  • If the instructions or labelling of the medication is incorrect.
  • Where the dosage or strength of the medication is wrong.
  • Prescribed a medication the patient was known to be allergic to.
  • Where a drug is prescribed that reacts adversely with another the patient was taking.
  • If the patient was given somebody else’s prescription.

This isn’t a conclusive list. We could help you claim for any type of negligence that’s resulted in your loved one’s death because they were given the wrong medication. Please call and explain what happened to a member of our team.

If you do decide to make a claim, evidence is vital to help prove what happened. Therefore, where possible, please retain any medication samples, packaging, labels, and instructions provided with the medicine.

In some cases, an official complaint can help with a medical negligence claim as the report can identify exactly what went wrong. A complaint isn’t a requirement when claiming though. Please speak with your solicitor when you begin a claim and they’ll advise you whether a complaint is required or not.

Deaths Because The Wrong Medication Was Dispensed By A Pharmacy

A pharmacist has a duty of care to each patient they dispense medication to. They play a key role in ensuring the patient receives the medication that was prescribed by their doctor. Here are some examples of when a pharmacist might be liable for a death caused by the wrong medication:

  • When the wrong medication is dispensed because it looks the same or has a similar name to the one prescribed.
  • If labelling on the medication is inaccurate.
  • Where you’re given somebody else’s medication.
  • If the wrong dose or wrong strength of medicine is dispensed.
  • Where the medication dispensed is out of date or the packaging has been damaged.

Claims can be made against pharmacies based in GP surgeries, hospitals or in their own high street store. In most cases, the claim won’t be against the individual pharmacist or technician, it’s more likely that it will be against the business that operates the pharmacy.

If you believe that a pharmacist is liable for the death of a loved one, please contact an advisor. They’ll review the claim with you and provide free advice on your options.

Deaths Because The Wrong Medication Was Prescribed By A GP Or Doctor

GP’s have a very limited amount of time with each patient. In that time, they need to assess the patient, prescribe medication to treat them or refer them to a specialist. In many cases, that’s exactly what happens, and the patient recovers well.

However, if mistakes happen, and the wrong medication is given a patient could suffer as a result. A doctor may be liable if:

  • They prescribe the wrong medicine because of a negligent misdiagnosis.
  • A prescription contains something the patient was known to be allergic to.
  • Or the doctor fails to take into account medication that the patient is already taking which causes an adverse reaction.

It’s important to note that it’s not just NHS negligence you could claim for. Private healthcare providers could also be sued if they prescribe the wrong medication which causes death.

Deaths Because The Wrong Medication Was Administered By A Hospital

In hospitals, medication errors could potentially happen in a number of different scenarios. The wrong medicine, dosage or strength could potentially be dispensed or administered in the following scenarios:

  • On a ward.
  • In the operating theatre.
  • By a pharmacy based in the hospital.
  • During emergency treatment in A&E.

However it happens, if the wrong medication is given, and it causes the death of the patient, then the hospital could be liable and compensation could be sought. It’s unlikely that the claim will be made against an individual medical professional. Instead, the claim could be against a clinical commissioning group, an NHS foundation trust or private healthcare providers.

If you believe your loved one died because they were given the wrong medication by a hospital, please get in touch so that we can review your claim. We’ll help to determine whether you’re eligible to claim and what your next steps should be.

Wrong Medication Error Statistics

While the number of medication errors that result in harm will never be fully known, there have been a number of reports that suggest they are fairly common. One NHS article reports that 1 in 20 prescriptions has an error.

The article was based on a report that looked at how common prescribing errors are. It also looked at the mistakes made, the causes and what changes could be made to prevent them.

The study looked at 15 GP surgeries in 3 different areas of England. A random 2% sample of patients (1,777) were reviewed and deemed to be representative of the population. Over 6,000 prescriptions were reviewed from the previous 12 months and a panel reviewed the potential errors.

The results of the study included:

  • 1 in 20 prescription items had a monitoring or prescribing error.
  • 1 in 550 of the items had a severe prescribing error.
  • 30% of errors involved incomplete information on the prescription.
  • 18% involved strength or dosage errors.
  • 11% involved incorrect timing of doses.
  • 42% of mistakes were deemed to be minor, 54% were moderate and 4% were severe.

The report also identified that patients aged over 75 or children were almost twice as likely to have errors on their prescription and certain medicines increased the chance of an error. The list included medications used to treat cancer, cardiovascular disease, infections and eye or skin disorders.

Finally, the report indicated that the causes of prescription medication errors included:

  • Inadequate training on safe prescribing.
  • Patients not receiving necessary blood tests due to the lack of robust systems.
  • GPs being under too much pressure.
  • Problems using GP computer systems. Sometimes important alerts regarding interactions with other drugs were overridden or the wrong drug, or dose, were selected from a list.

Am I Eligible To Claim For The Death Of A Loved One?

Following a death caused by medical negligence, there are three legal entities that are able to make a compensation claim:

  • The estate of the victim. The executor of the will is responsible for representing the estate and claiming compensation its behalf.
  • Any dependants of the victim.
  • And the victim’s family members.

We’ll review what can be included in a claim by these parties later on in the guide but a large part of the claim will usually be related to financial dependence of the victim.

Time Limits To Make A Claim

In normal circumstances, you’ll have a 3-year time limit to make a medical negligence claim for wrongful death. This is the same as the personal injury claims time limit.

Beginning a claim as soon as possible is advisable because, even though 3-years seems like a long time, your solicitor will have a number of tasks that need to be completed before they can submit the claim. These tasks all take time, so the sooner you begin, the more chance the solicitor will be able to compile the claim properly.

It’s also a good idea to start sooner rather than later so that all of the relevant information pertaining to the claim is still fresh in your memory and documentation is still easy to obtain.

Contact a member of our team today for a free assessment and free legal advice about your options.

What Could I Claim? Death Caused By Wrong Medication Calculator

When you claim compensation for the death of a loved one, there are two heads of loss that can be considered: general and special damages. General damages are designed to cover the pain, suffering and loss of amenity leading up to your loved one’s death. Special damages are designed to cover any financial losses incurred as a result of their injuries.

Special damages you could claim for include travelling costs, care costs, medical expenses, lost earnings. These would all be made on behalf of the victim’s estate. Any compensation awarded to the victim’s estate would be distributed by the executor of the will according to the victim’s instructions.

As well as those damages on behalf of the victim’s estate, loved ones can claim for a number of damages themselves, these include:

  • A bereavement award. This is an award under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 which currently equates to £12,980. It can be claimed by spouses, civil partners or parents if the victim was under 18.
  • Funeral expenses. Funerals can be quite expensive these days so the cost could be included in your claim.
  • Loss of income. You can also claim for the loss of your loved one’s income if you were financially dependent on them.

As well as these damages, other parts of a claim could include the loss of love and affection, the loss of benefits (like a pension) and the loss of your loved ones help around the house.

While no amount of compensation is going to cover the pain of losing a loved one, our panel of solicitors always try to ensure you receive the full amount of compensation that’s possible to make moving forwards a little bit easier.

No Win No Fee Claims For Deaths Due To The Wrong Medication

Something that worries people who are considering a medical negligence claim is the cost of hiring a solicitor. To reduce the financial risks involved and to give you the confidence to pursue compensation that you could be entitled to, our panel of solicitors work on a No Win, No Fee basis.

The claims process begins with an assessment of your case by a solicitor. This is to check that it’s viable and that you could receive compensation. Once they’ve agreed to take your claim on, you’ll receive a No Win, No Fee agreement also called a conditional fee agreement or CFA.

The CFA will explain that no payment is required to start the claim, there are no fees during the claim, and you won’t have to pay the solicitor’s fees if the claim is unsuccessful.

If your solicitor wins the case, they can ask for a small contribution towards their costs known as a success fee. This is a percentage of your compensation that’s deducted before you’re paid. There’s no need to worry too much about this though as the CFA clearly explains the percentage you’ll pay and they are legally capped too.

To check if you’re eligible to claim on a No Win, No Fee basis, please contact an advisor today.

Contact Us To Claim For A Death Caused By The Wrong Medication

You’re now coming to the end of this guide about wrongful death due to medical negligence claims. If you’ve decided that you’d like to begin a claim with Medical Negligence Assist, here are our contact details:

  • Telephone: Call a specialist advisor on 0800 652 3087 for free claims advice.
  • Live Chat: Connect with an online advisor through our chat facility.
  • Online: Request a call back from an advisor by completing this online form.

We understand how difficult it will be to discuss your claim with a stranger. Therefore, we’re happy to work at a pace that suits you and won’t put any pressure on you to proceed. An advisor will listen to what’s happened and who you blame. They’ll then review the evidence with you. If the case could be successful, they’ll introduce you to a medical negligence solicitor from our panel who’ll offer a No Win, No Fee service if they take your claim on.

Helpful Links

Thanks for reading this guide about claiming for a death caused by the wrong medication. To provide further assistance, we’ve linked to some relevant external sources as well as some more of our guides. Please get in touch if there’s anything else you’d like to know.

NHS Negligence Claims – Information on when you could claim compensation following NHS negligence.

Claiming Against A GP – This guide explains other types of negligence which could result in a claim against your GP.

Hospital Negligence Claims – A guide that provides a list of different types of medical negligence that could take place in a hospital.

The General Pharmaceutical Council – The body that regulates pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacies in Great Britain.

Pharmacy Inspection Reports – A site that allows you to read inspection reports for pharmacies across the country.

The Care Quality Commission – The independent regulator for health and social care in England.

Written by Brett

Edited by Lis.