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Can I Sue My Doctor for Prescribing Me the Wrong Medicine?

When you go to the doctor, you assume they know what they’re doing. You’ve put your trust into many doctors and, while most of your experiences with them have been pleasant, you went to one doctor who prescribed you the wrong medicine.

This mistaken prescription left you feeling ill and worse than before. You’re upset that you went to your doctor for guidance and they made such an error. Their misstep caused you to lose money, since you had to go back to other doctors for the right treatment and take off time from work because you were too ill. You spent energy and sleepless nights wondering when you’d get better, and your loved ones were worried about you.

You’re not sure what you can do to make things right, but feel know you should be compensated, at the very least, for your medical bills and time. Thankfully, there is a solution. The next course of action could be to file a claim against your doctor for prescribing you the wrong medicine. If you’re looking into your options, here are some things to keep in mind to ensure you’ll have a chance at winning your case.

Is a Wrong Prescription Medical Malpractice?

 Giving you the wrong prescription could be considered medical malpractice in a court of law, but there are some things you’ll have to prove first.

You will need to show that your doctor was the one who made the mistake (by writing the wrong prescription), and not the pharmacist who gave you wrong medicine or the company that mislabeled it. This can be difficult to prove.

Doctors give out prescriptions based upon their medical knowledge, and they are expected to give you the medications to cure or treat your condition; but, even doctors make mistakes, and it’s typically not intentional. They don’t know how you’ll react to the medications with possible side effects until you try the medicine, but they should not carelessly expose you to something wrong or dangerous. For instance, many patients suffering from depression will take a few different antidepressants before they find the one that’s right for them. It’s not necessarily negligence if it doesn’t work out with the first antidepressant.

The only time taking the wrong medicine probably ends up becoming a legal case is if it involves provider negligence.

What Is Medical Negligence?

 Medical negligence involves violating a medical standard of care that your doctor (or the provider) should have upheld and did not, and that led to your suffering.

An expert at the same level and in the same field as your provider can help establish the standard of care involved.

Ways in which your doctor could have made errors that hurt (or could kill) you include prescribing a drug for too short of a time, not giving the correct dosage, giving a drug that you’re allergic to, not taking into account side effects and/or not offering the right information or cautions on how to correctly use the drug.

An expert will be required to identify how your provider didn’t meet the standard of care and how that affected your circumstances.

The final step is to prove how this caused harm. Perhaps symptoms got worse or it caused new symptoms to arise. If could even result in death.  The harm has to be significant enough for an attorney to justify the expense of bringing a case. For example, if a drug gave you migraines, this is not a huge inconvenience in your life. However, if it caused irreversible kidney damage, you have a stronger case.

Winning a Medical Negligence Case

 The truth is, it’s tough to win a medical negligence case. In many cases, doctors win because it’s hard to prove to a jury or lay people (non-doctors) that the doctor or provider made a mistake, and doctors are very trusted members of our society. Juries and judges understand that doctors try different things to help their patients, and they usually do not have bad intentions. Plus, it can be hard to collect evidence other than a doctor’s notes, which may be sketchy (or even written in anticipation of a claim) and won’t always help the case.

However, this doesn’t mean your case is not valid or winnable. To have the best shot at successfully suing your doctor and/or reaching a settlement with your doctor’s insurance company, you’ll need to hire a lawyer who is experienced in medical malpractice.

The good news is that if a medical malpractice lawyer decides to take on your case, they won’t charge you a retainer or hourly fee. Only if you win the case will your lawyer’s fee come out of your settlement. You can relax in the knowledge that your case is in capable hands.

Most people (including doctors) don’t want to risk going to trial and losing. This is because they could end up owing the other side a substantial sum of money and reputations could be tarnished among the community and peers. Therefore, the case could end up with a favorable settlement and not have to go to court (usually if you hire an experienced medical malpractice lawyer). The chances of you going up against the doctor and their insurance company on your own and getting a fair settlement are not very good at all.

Since medical negligence is hard to prove, we recommend you engage a medical malpractice attorney who has access to medical experts who can prove standard of care, as well as who knows the ins and outs of these types of cases. You don’t have the time, understanding or resources to dedicate yourself to a case like this, like experienced lawyers do.  Hiring them is usually the best option.

Finding the Right Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Though one may have suffered a great deal from the wrong prescription, justice can be served. If you’re ready to talk with a medical malpractice lawyer who will help get what you deserve, contact Heiting & Irwin today for a free consultation.

Sara Morgan

Ms. Morgan obtained her Juris Doctor from Chapman University School of Law in Orange, California. She contributes to the improvement of both the local and legal communities, having provided pro- and low-bono legal services, and volunteering at legal clinics and other programs serving the community. View Attorney Sara Morgan's Attorney Bio Here.

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