There are many medical procedures and pharmaceutical treatments that have the potential to cause harm as well as to heal. Anything can be toxic given a high enough dose, and when it comes to powerful drugs that are specifically designed to affect the body’s chemistry and functions, toxicity is far easier to reach. This is precisely why many pharmaceuticals are “controlled substances” that you can only legally possess with a doctor’s prescription, and why it’s so important for you to follow your doctor’s instructions when it comes to taking your medication.
Even when prescribed and taken correctly, medicines can end up harming patients through side effects that outweigh the benefits the drugs provide. And, unfortunately, doctors and other drug prescribers are not always perfect themselves. Incorrectly-filled prescriptions, a lack of awareness regarding interactions with other medications you may be taking, and even the administering of incorrect doses are all occurrences that, while relatively rare, affect thousands of Canadians every year.
When a physician or other medical professional has made a serious error in prescribing or administering a medication, and when that mistake results in serious harm—possibly even death—to the patient involved, that medical professional may be liable for medical malpractice.
Not All Pharmaceutical Harm is Grounds for a Malpractice Case
Every drug carries risks, and there are some pharmaceuticals where the risks are so high that they are only prescribed to treat severe and life-threatening diseases. Before prescribing these drugs, your Calgary doctor will discuss the options you have available and explain the risks of the drug to you and why those risks may be worthwhile in light of your condition. In such cases, when the drugs are properly prescribed and administered, any harm that results would not be grounds for a malpractice case—when there is no mistake or error on the physician’s part, and the risks are taken on after full disclosure, there is no malpractice despite the potential for injury or increased illness.
Similarly, when patients are given careful instructions on how to take their medication but don’t follow those instructions—including dosages that are too high or too low, taking the drug more or less frequently than prescribed, or ending a course of medication before or after the point recommended by your physician—any harm that results can’t be blamed on your medical professional. Again, there are risks involved with every pharmaceutical, and your doctor’s instructions are meant to minimize those risks and keep you as safe and healthy as possible.
Only when a true mistake has been made in prescribing or administering a drug, and when that mistake leads to a significant injury or harm, has medical malpractice occurred.
Seeking Help for Your Pharmaceutical Malpractice Claim
If you or a family member has been seriously harmed by a medication error, whether as an outpatient or in a Calgary-area hospital, help is available. Contact the medical malpractice lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie today to get the legal advice and assistance you’re entitled to.