Start your free consultation

Medication Errors

We’re trial lawyers. Our core competency – above everything else – is trying cases to juries. And we specialize in beating giants.

MEDICATION ERRORS​

If a doctor prescribes the wrong drug or dosage, or fails to note serious drug allergies, the consequences can be severe. Pharmacists also owe a duty of care to fill prescriptions with the correct medications.

Medication errors and malpractice occur when you don’t get the right kind of care through your medicine. That can involve not getting the right medication in the first place, getting the wrong medication, getting an untimely or inadequate dose, or not being warned of harmful side effects or extra precautions. A number of different people, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and administrators—plus the medical systems that employ them—can have a hand in a medication error.

Unfortunately, medication error is pretty common, and it’s one of the top ten reasons for medical malpractice cases in the U.S. There’s a roughly 5 percent error rate in inpatient care. One estimate says medication errors cause 1 of 131 outpatient and 1 of 854 inpatient deaths each year, in addition to billions of extra costs to the healthcare system.

Medication error and malpractice is a complex and wide-ranging issue. Caregivers have access to around 10,000 different medications to prescribe, and nearly a third of U.S. adults take five or more medications, so there are numerous different combinations and treatments to consider—or potentially misapply.

Medication error happens on two levels:

Individual level

Some errors are the fault of an individual doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or administrator. Common reasons for errors include:

  • Selecting the wrong drug
  • Failing to consider a patient’s health, age, pre-existing conditions, or other factors that affect treatment and dosage
  • Being distracted or writing prescriptions in a rush
  • Mixing up medicine names
  • Bad handwriting
  • Language barriers
  • Unclear or missing instructions to the patient
  • Failing to account for how drugs will interact with each other
  • Failing to monitor vital signs, such as kidney function, when medication is under way
  • Failing to follow safe drug protocols, such as overprescribing opioids

Big-picture level

Other errors are less the fault of an individual, and involve how a hospital, clinic, or healthcare system itself is run. They include:

  • Poor training or prescription protocols
  • Staffing issues
  • Overworked doctors
  • Inadequate or unclear record keeping
  • Failure to keep treatment and medication consistent amid shift changes, new prescriptions, new staff being involved, etc.
  • Missing or improper equipment to deliver medication
  • Administrative errors, such as assigning prescriptions to the wrong patient
  • Lack of a culture of safety/conservative proscribing

Because of the huge variety of conditions, medicines, and treatments, errors can range from being totally harmless to being fatal. An error that delivers your medicine wrong can cause physical and psychological harm that’s not your fault.

Under Minnesota law, you usually have 4 years to bring a malpractice case against your doctor or hospital.

Medication error robs you of your health and peace of mind, and a medical malpractice suit can help take back some of what you’ve lost. There are no caps on damages in Minnesota, and you are eligible to recover resources which help you meet a number of challenges, including:

  • Medical bills and costs
  • Lost income
  • Past bodily and mental harm, including:
    • Pain
    • Disability
    • Disfigurement
    • Embarrassment
    • Emotional distress
  • Future bodily and mental harm, including:
    • Pain
    • Disability
    • Disfigurement
    • Embarrassment
    • Emotional distress

Minnesota medical malpractice lawyers help people with medication error complications. 

It can be confusing, painful, and time-consuming to sort out what went wrong, but you don’t have to do it alone. If you schedule a free consultation with us, we can eventually use our network of lawyers and medical experts to review your records and help get you the relief you need, including compensation for medical bills, future treatment, lost income, and pain and suffering. And we’ll recommend other trusted firms if you want a second opinion.

You’ve already been let down once, which is why we operate under a contingency fee structure for maximum fairness: we only receive payment if we help you get what you deserve, either a settlement or victory at trial.

Get in touch with us here if you’re ready to have allies who understand.

THE MADIA LAW WAY

We have a process that works in getting exceptional results for our clients. 

We are trial lawyers who prepare every case for trial from Day 1. Investigation and legal research are the first things we do, and we spend a lot of time on them. Because we haven’t filed the case yet, we have complete control – the defendant has no say and we want to use this time wisely.  We interview witnesses that can help us prove the case.  We’ll ask you for all relevant documents in your possession and review those carefully as well.  We also will spend some time conducting legal research about unique issues in the case.  We pull the jury instructions that the judge will ultimately charge the jury with after closing arguments at trial. 

Our next step is typically to send a demand letter to the defendant. In the letter, we thoroughly lay out: the facts surrounding the defendant’s misconduct; the applicable law (including statutory and case citations) that make clear that the defendant broke the law; an analysis of your damages and the defendant’s monetary exposure; a demand for a monetary amount to settle the claim; and an instruction to preserve all relevant evidence, including electronic evidence. The point of this letter is to give the defendant a chance to do the right thing and pay a fair amount before litigation, and to give the defendant an opportunity to present any defenses or evidence it wants us to consider before moving forward.  Sometimes we skip the demand letter if there are strategic reasons to move straight to filing, but we typically give defendants a chance to do the right thing.

If early negotiations fail, great – we file a Complaint and serve the defendant with it. A Complaint is a legal document that states the facts of what happened and alleges how the defendant broke the law. It formally starts the lawsuit.  Many lawyers draft complaints in a general and relatively vague way, just to get it done and filed – because that’s all that’s really required.  We take a different view. We view the Complaint as our first chance to tell your story to the judge, and we take it seriously. So we draft detailed complaints and include legal citations to statutory and judicial authority on unique points.  Sometimes we’ll include a number of exhibits, diagrams, or other demonstrative aids to help the Court understand our claims.  A secondary benefit of this approach is that defense lawyers reading the Complaint can become educated on the problems of their case and the state of the law – sometimes this leads them to reach out to us shortly after service of the Complaint to re-initiate settlement negotiations.  Of course, by that time, the price for settlement has gone up.

Some lawyers view written discovery as a necessary evil – something to get done and out of the way before depositions.  Not us.  Written discovery is a gift and an opportunity.  We spend a great deal of time crafting requests for documents and interrogatories (questions for the defendant to answer in writing) that are specific, detailed, and tailored to get what we need to prove our case.  Many lawyers – even great ones – think written discovery is a waste of time because defense lawyers typically answer them on behalf of their clients and can try to stonewall with legalese and objections.  We view this as a wonderful opportunity.  In our experience, most defense lawyers can’t help themselves when answering discovery: they over-state their defenses and make assertions that their clients will not be able to support in testimony. So we get to commit the defendant to defenses that they can’t back up, leading to contradictions, confusion, and chaos in their depositions later on.  We also use Requests for Admission – which many lawyers don’t.  The Federal Rules and Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure allow us to ask defendants to “admit” certain facts.  We send them RFAs that are very difficult for them to deny.  Of course, they do it anyway, but that sets them up later for cost and fee-shifting, which the Rules mandate for defendants that deny RFAs that are later proven true.  And usually, we can get the defendants’ own witnesses to admit facts that their defense lawyers denied in RFA.  That’s a great situation that leads to more chaos and confusion on the defense side.

One last point on written discovery – we send multiple waves of it throughout discovery.  We typically send 3 or 4 sets of written discovery requests to defendants throughout discovery.  This compounds the problems for them, because the defense lawyers continue to overstate their defenses, but now run into contradictions from not just the defendant witnesses’ deposition testimony, but also their own previous discovery responses.  This makes for a great record that we can present to the judge at dispositive motions, and use for impeachment at trial.

This is our chance to question relevant witnesses, on the record with a court reporter (we typically videotape important depositions as well). We get to confront the defense witnesses with all of the evidence we’ve developed through written discovery and document production. By this time, the defendant put its witnesses in an impossible position through its written defenses, which are often untrue and indefensible.  So the witness has to either lie to support the defense, or admit it’s not true.  That’s a dilemma that works for our clients either way, no matter which option the witness takes.  We use depositions to expose contradictions, create a record for dispositive motions, lock witnesses into their stories so that we can impeach them later at trial, and sometimes, to show defense lawyers how hopeless their case is.  We often calls from defense counsel shortly after depositions of their clients, seeking to re-start settlement negotiations.

The defendant will usually make a motion for summary judgment after discovery, asking the Court to throw out the case without having a jury trial. Because we’ve hit discovery so hard – both through written discovery and depositions – this is a tough motion for defense counsel to write in our cases.  We draft our response for the Court and now get to bring everything together: the admissions, contradictions, nonsense, and obvious fact disputes that we’ve uncovered through discovery.  We tell a compelling story that wraps everything together for the Court and makes clear that the defense motion has to be denied, and the defendant needs to face a jury for its conduct.

Sometimes, we’ll even make an affirmative motion for summary judgment, asking the Court to grant judgment in favor of our client without a trial. These motions are generally rare for plaintiffs to make, because the defendant can usually point to some fact dispute on its intent or some other factor that necessitates a trial. But we make affirmative summary judgment motions significantly more than is typical for plaintiffs, and that’s because the work we put in during discovery helps build a fantastic record to do so.

After the Court denies the defense motion for summary judgment, the defendant has only 2 options: 1) do the right thing and pay you a fair amount to our client to settle your claim (usually much, much more at this point than the defendant could have paid at the beginning of the case to settle); or 2) face a jury for its conduct and risk an enormous verdict. This is the dilemma that we have been creating and forcing the defendant into for the entire case. We’ll engage in settlement negotiations at this point from a position of extreme strength, mainly because most defendants are (rightly) terrified of facing a jury to defend their conduct.

This is, candidly, our favorite part of the case – why we went to law school: to hold the powerful accountable before juries.  We prepare heavily for trial, including: detailed witness preparation, focus groups, and mock trials.  At this point, the potential outcomes and consequences for the defendant are much more severe than if it simply did the right thing at the beginning of the case and paid a fair amount to compensate our client for its misconduct.  As we advocate to the jury for our client, we’re also mindful of protecting the record so that defendants will be unsuccessful in attacking the verdict in post-trial motions or appeal.

What Our Clients Say