Injuries from Drug Interactions

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 What Is a Contraindication?

A contraindication is a factor that generally prohibits a surgery, drug, or procedure from being used to treat the patient because, otherwise, it will be detrimental to the patient.

This factor can be the existence of a medical condition such as high blood pressure or taking a currently prescribed medication. It can also involve circumstances where a person is currently taking medicines or undergoing treatment that would hinder or interact negatively with other medications.

Drug contraindications and interactions can develop additional health hazards and medical conditions. These can often include:

  • Shifts in heart rate or other vital signs
  • Harsh swings in blood indicators, such as sugar levels or insulin levels
  • Adverse effects on organs and other bodily systems
  • Nausea, vomiting, stomach issues, and other related conditions

In some examples, negative drug interactions can lead to very intense or life-threatening conditions, such as heart attacks, seizures, or other troubles. They can also lead to long-term damage as well in some circumstances.

How Does Medical Malpractice Pertain to Drug Interaction Injuries?

Medical malpractice is when a medical professional provides substandard care to a patient. All medical professionals, such as pharmacists, are supposed to observe comparable standards of medical care as a professional of reasonable skill. When a medical professional delivers substandard care, medical malpractice can be evaluated.

For example, a doctor should make those inquiries if it is the standard of care to inquire about a patient’s medication background. If they fail to do so, they may be held responsible for malpractice if their failure results in a drug interaction.

Another example is when a pharmacist makes an error when prescribing medication to a patient. This can result in the wrong dose size, inappropriate medications, and other errors, leading to a negative drug interaction.

How Is the Standard of Care Specified?

The requisite standard of care is usually determined by assessing the performance and abilities of doctors practicing near the doctor accused of malpractice. Exactly how near can be different in each state. For instance, a rural physician’s resources will often be less expansive than those of a metropolitan hospital, which may be considered when determining the appropriate standard. Examples of common standards include:

  • The National Standard of Care: requires a doctor to use the degree of skill and care of a reasonably competent practitioner in his field under the same or similar circumstances
  • The Locality Rule: requires a doctor to have the reasonable caliber of skill and knowledge that surgeons and physicians generally possess in the locality where they practices
  • The Respectable Minority Rule: where the physician did not observe the same course of therapy that other physicians would have followed, he can show that a respectable minority of practitioners accepted his course

How Is the Standard of Care Proved?

Usually, expert witness testimony is necessary in medical malpractice cases to establish the standard of care.

What If I Cannot Establish Negligence?

If actual negligence can’t be proved, even though it is clear that it existed, an injured patient may still be able to prevail on their claim. For instance, a patient may not be able to prove negligence because he was unconscious during surgery.

In such cases, the patient must demonstrate:

  • That they suffered an injury that is not an expected complication of medical care
  • That the injury does not usually happen unless someone has been negligent
  • That the physician was accountable for the patient’s well-being at the time of the injury

Do I Need a Lawyer For My Medical Malpractice Claim?

The standard of care for medical malpractice varies in each state and can be challenging to analyze and establish. An experienced medical injury lawyer can help you determine the proper standard of care. A medical malpractice attorney can also represent you in court.

Are There Limits on the Fee an Attorney Can Charge in a Medical Malpractice Case?

Although there have been several recent endeavors to enact federal legislation limiting the amount attorneys can recover in medical malpractice cases, there currently is no federal statute on the subject. Nevertheless, states have enacted various statutes limiting attorney’s fees in such cases. There are presently two main types of regulation: percentage limitations on attorney’s fees and courts with review and approval statutes.

Percentage Limitations on Medical Malpractice Attorney’s Fees

Sixteen states currently have a statute or court rule that establishes a specific limit or sliding scale on contingency fees lawyers may charge clients who file a medical malpractice claim. The following are examples of how several different states have addressed the issue:

  • California: Sliding scale fee may not exceed 40% of first $50,000, 1/3 of the next $50,000, 25% of the next $500,000, and 15% of damages exceeding $600,000.
  • Tennessee: Fee may not exceed one-third of the comprehensive recovery.
  • Wyoming: When recovery is $1 million or less: 1/3 if the claim is settled within 60 days of filing, or 40% if settled after 60 days or when judgment is entered; 30% if over $1 million. Parties may agree to pay more.

How Does Product Liability Pertain to Drug Interaction Injuries?

Product liability or defective product laws are another basis for a drug interaction lawsuit. A defective product is any product, such as medication, that causes injury to a person because of faulty labeling, design defect, or manufacturing defect.

A plaintiff who suffers injuries from drug interactions could sue the drug manufacturer if a defective product caused the injury. A typical example of a drug product defect is the manufacturer failing to include appropriate warning labels regarding possible drug interactions.

If a person is injured due to the lack of warnings, it could support an injury lawsuit. Damages in an injury lawsuit can cover various expenses, including lost wages, hospital bills, and other losses.

What Can Limit My Damages If I’m Injured from a Drug Interaction?

While physicians and other medical professionals are responsible for prescribing and dispensing the correct drug and amount, they can be minimally liable (or free from liability). Why?

If you are not honest with your physician about your health or other drugs (especially illegal drugs), it will redirect most of the blame to you. Many patients don’t tell their doctors if they take any illegal drugs. In some cases, certain prescription drugs that are otherwise harmless can cause severe injury or death if mixed with an illegal substance.

Also, the pharmacist will often remind you and let you know how to safely take the medication or what food to avoid if you take it. If you disregard these warnings and are injured from them, you are contributorily negligent to your injury.

Medications must also be stored correctly, and if they are seriously altered or damaged due to too much heat or water damage, you should not take the medication. If you take the medication anyway, without asking your physician if you can, it is doubtful that your physician or pharmacist can be held fully liable.

Ultimately, it will depend on the facts of your case. Each case is unique, and there are cases where the medical professional is wholly liable. But, it is possible that the patient can be held primarily liable for an injury due to a drug interaction. The court will decide based on the evidence at hand.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Sue for Injuries from Drug Interactions?

You might need to contact a personal injury lawyer if you were harmed because of a drug interaction that was not your fault. Injury laws can vary from state to state, but a lawyer will be able to explain your legal rights and can file your lawsuit on your behalf.


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