Drug Interactions: Who's at Fault?

Did you know prescription drug interactions kill more people every year than car crashes?

A surprising but true stat, according to the Food and Drug Administration. An FDA report found more than two-million people are injured every year as a result of drug interactions and about 100,000 people die. Compare that to less than 40,000 car crash fatalities and you realize just how staggering the problem is.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 40-percent of drug interactions are preventable. The CDC estimates drug interactions account for an additional $3.5 billion in health care costs each and every year.

No doubt, medical advances can change, even save lives, but sometimes mistakes happen.  While research and discoveries are great, these new technologies do have their risks. When a new drug is released, the risk of it negatively interacting with another medication is a concern. So what happens when you are injured from a drug interaction?

There are generally three situations when drug interactions occur:

  1. when drugs interact with other drugs
  2. when drugs interact with foods
  3. when drugs interact with medical or physiological conditions

Physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare providers have a strict standard of care they must follow and this includes warning patients of any known risks or side effects. If they fail to do this, it is malpractice and is actionable (meaning you can sue if you suffer loss as a result).

It is a medical professional's responsibility to relay any warnings or possible risks/side effects to a patient they are treating. A doctor  liable for prescribing the wrong medication, dosage, a medicine that should not be mixed with a patient's other medications, or any medication a patient is allergic to.

Pharmacists and nurses or hospitals can also be held liable. Sometimes a pharmacist or nurse may not correctly read a doctor's instructions and end up dispensing the wrong medication and/or dosage or provide the patient with incorrect information.  

When a person files a lawsuit following a drug interaction, they can seek to collect damages for past and future medical expenses/medical care, lost wages, as well as pain and suffering (among other things). Sometimes long-term care is necessary because of the extent of injuries sustained so compensation can be sought for this too.

If a patient dies, a wrongful death suit can be pursued by family members.

Now let's be clear, we're talking about prescription medications, not recreational drugs—that's a whole other story for another day.  

Drug interaction cases can be extremely complicated. For that reason it is imperative to contact a qualified attorney at the first sign of a problem.

If you feel as though you or someone you know has experienced a negative drug interaction give our office a call.  Our team will do a complimentary case analysis and answer any questions you may have.

 

Zachariah B. Parry is an attorney and founding partner at the law firm Parry & Pfau and is an adjunct professor who teaches torts, contracts, and Nevada practice and procedure for UNLV’s paralegal program. He can be reached at 702-912-4451 or zach@p2lawyers.com.