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Study shows seniors face risk of bad meds; medical malpractice

Miami residents, like others across the country, take prescribed medications without any qualms. Patients rightly expect that their doctors are competent enough to prescribe needed drugs at the proper strength. Doctors, unfortunately, sometimes fail to live up to these expectations. A recently released study shows just how vulnerable seniors are to medication errors.

According to the study, researchers found that 20.5 percent of seniors age 65 and older received "inappropriate" medication. "Inappropriate," as defined by the study, includes prescriptions that are entirely wrong or issued for a wrong dosage. Many of the individuals prescribed inappropriate medication saw adverse effects. Seniors' livers may have trouble breaking down the wrong pills, which can lead to a toxic buildup of medications.

Perhaps the most startling aspect of this report is that these mistakes are avoidable. Therefore, when preventable injuries occur as a result of medication error, medical malpractice has likely occurred. This means that those who fall sick as a result of bad prescriptions may be able to obtain compensation.

In order to receive awards for damages, an individual must show several elements. It must be shown that the doctor owed the patient a duty of care, that the duty of care was breached, that injuries occurred as a result of that breach, and that compensable injuries resulted. When a patient's doctor prescribes a completely wrong medication, a duty of care has almost certainly been breached.

A successful medical malpractice suit allows an individual to recover medical expenses, as well as compensation for pain and suffering and lost wages. In additions, a lawsuit holds doctors accountable to their patients. Then, hopefully, doctors will double check their prescriptions before handing them to their patients.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Medications Are 'Inappropriately' Prescribed To 1 In 5 Seniors: Study," Aug. 23, 2012

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