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Wrong medications and wrong doses put millions at risk

Many Miami residents take medication without much thought about whether the medication they were given is the type or dose they need. This trust is not unfounded, as most doctors are extremely educated and well trained. But stories of medication errors abound, and they should make patients double check their medication before taking it.

In one case, a woman who was supposed to receive vitamin B12 injections was given atropine, a drug used to resuscitate those experiencing cardiac arrest or to treat nerve gas poisoning. Though this woman discovered the mishap before she injected the drug, which could have killed her, others are not so lucky. In another instance, an elderly woman went to the hospital with a bacterial infection and was given 100 milligrams of Oxycontin, three times a day. This dosage was 30 times what the patient was supposed to receive, and the woman later died. A lawsuit has been filed in that case.

Studies have indicated that more than 1.5 million people are harmed by medication errors each year and more than 200,000 people die. Many other medication mistakes occur each year that either cause no harm or go unreported. When medical professionals harm their patients by giving them the wrong medicine or a wrong dosage, the victim and/or the victim's family can be left struggling to recover from the incident.

Physical, emotional and financial pain can result from a medication error. To help alleviate these harms, a victim can file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the negligent medical professional and the hospital that employs him. Winning a case is dependent upon the victim's ability to prove the doctor breached his duty of care to the patient, typically through negligence, and that the breach caused the victim's harm.

If a case is won at trial or a settlement is reached beforehand, the victim may obtain compensation. Then, the awards can be applied to incurred medical expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of companionship. If the error resulted in the victim's death, the surviving family may also obtain funeral costs. These errors should never occur, but when they do a lawsuit may be the best way to hold these professionals accountable.

Source: My Fox DC, "Fox 5 Investigates: Medication mistakes that can kill," Sherri Ly, July 11, 2013

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