My Doctor Prescribed The Wrong Dosage, Could I Claim Compensation?
Doctors have undertaken years of training to be able to diagnose and treat patients including prescribing the correct medication when required. If a doctor prescribes their patient with the wrong dosage of medication, it can cause the patient further ill health in a variety of ways. It may be that they have prescribed too weak a dose that therefore does not treat the problem sufficiently, or prescribed a dosage that is too strong which could result in other problems.
Regardless of how your doctor has prescribed the wrong dosage of medication, if you have become ill as a result of their negligence, you may be able to claim compensation. Legal Expert has an experienced team of personal injury solicitors who can give you the help and guidance you need if you have been prescribed the wrong dosage of medication and would like to discuss your options. You can call us free on 0800 073 8804.
Select a Section
- A Guide To What To Do If Your Doctor Prescribed The Wrong Dosage Of Medication
- What Is A Medication Dosage Error?
- Ineffective Prescription
- Under-prescribing Dosage Errors
- Over-prescribing Dosage Errors
- Rate Of Medication Errors By Doctors
- Rights To Correct Treatment Under NHS Care
- Calculating Compensation If A Doctor Prescribed The Wrong Dosage Of Medication
- Special Damages To Compensate For Losses And Expenses
- How To Prove A Doctor Prescribed The Wrong Medication
- No Win No Fee Claims If Prescribed The Wrong Dosage Of Medication
- How Legal Expert Could Help You
- Start A Wrong Dosage Claim
- Essential Medical And Claims References
Legal Expert has produced this guide so that anyone who has suffered due to their doctor’s clinical error of prescribing the wrong dosage of medication, can understand how the claiming process works and what it involves. Although the majority of people will instruct a personal injury lawyer to conduct their claim for them, it helps to have some understanding of what information will be needed, what type of evidence will help strengthen their case, and what type of damages they can claim for, and this guide covers all of these areas.
The guide also gives some information regarding your rights to correct treatment under the NHS, what can happen with dosage errors, and how much compensation you may be awarded if successful. We also discuss the benefits of using a legal team to make your claim on your behalf, what a no win no fee policy is, and how to get your claim started.
A medication dosage error is when a doctor prescribed the wrong dosage of medication, such as prescribing the wrong strength of the medication, or prescribing the wrong amount of medication to be taken in a set time period. Making an error such as this is classed as medical negligence and can have serious and sometimes life-threatening repercussions. Wrong dosage errors include:
- Prescribing too weak a dose making the medication ineffective
- Prescribing too strong a dose causing the patient to overdose
- Prescribing the wrong strength for a certain age, such as giving an adult’s strength, or dose, of medication to a child
Incorrect dosage of medication can lead to all manner of health problems, sometimes having very serious and permanent side effects. As an example, if a doctor prescribed the wrong dosage of the painkiller paracetamol causing the patient to take too much, this could potentially cause irreversible damage to the liver which essentially can lead to liver failure or loss of life.
As medical professionals, doctors are trained extensively in diagnosing and treating illnesses and diseases in order to help people live a healthy and long life. They have a medical duty of care to their patients to use their medical knowledge and expertise to treat them in accordance with their speciality in the medical field. If they make an error due to negligence and the patient suffers as a result, they could be found in breach of their duty of care.
Prescribing errors may happen due to a number of different reasons, such as being overworked and therefore overtired, lack of knowledge about a patient, distractions, general careless mistakes and so on. But when a patient’s health is in the balance, there is no excuse for this kind of medical negligence. Ineffective prescribing means that the medication will not have the desired effect on the patient’s diagnosed condition and therefore doesn’t work, and so is ineffective. This can lead to the patient’s condition worsening, which in some circumstances could have devastating consequences. Ineffective prescribing could be that a certain drug prescribed has had no beneficial effect on the patient due to its unsuitability, or that the dose prescribed was incorrect for the condition possibly resulting in not only worsening of the diagnosed condition but possibly also leading to other related problems in the patient’s health occurring.
Medical professionals such as doctors need to take care when attending to a patient and deciding on the course of medication they require. With the thousands of illnesses and diseases that exist and the many types of medicines and dosages available, if in any doubt about the right type of medication or dosage for a particular condition, they can refer to the BNF or (British National Formulary) or BNCF for children, produced by the National Institute for Health Care Excellence (NICE).
Under prescribing means that the medication prescribed for a particular condition is either inappropriate, or the dosage is too low to have any useful effect on the condition. If a patient is given too weak a dose of medication, then it is unlikely to have the desired effect resulting in the condition not getting any better or even worsening over time possibly leading to other health complaints. For instance, if someone is in need of blood pressure tablets which are essential for treating high blood pressure to lessen the likelihood of the patient suffering heart disease or having a stroke, and is given too weak a dose, then the blood pressure may remain at an elevated level, and therefore the risk of heart disease and stroke will remain high. Or if a cancer patient is put on a course of chemotherapy, but the dosage is too low, it may not be strong enough to kill the cancerous cells which could have devastating consequences as this may give cancer more time to grow and spread. Another example is if a patient with diabetes is prescribed too low a dose of diabetic treatment, their sugar levels could become dangerously high putting extra pressure on the kidneys and if pro-longed, eventually lead to kidney damage or even failure as well as other health problems.
Regardless of the reasoning behind a wrong dose prescribed by a doctor failing to prescribe the correct dose may be an act of medical negligence and if a patient is injured as a result, they could be eligible to make a personal injury claim for damages.
If you have been injured due to a doctor under prescribing medication to treat your health complaint, speak to Legal Expert to find out if you have a valid claim.
Over-prescribing is a term used when a doctor prescribes too high a dose of medicine by either prescribing too high a strength of a medication, prescribing it too often or prescribing it for too long a period of time. In fact, sometimes treatment with medication is not needed at all but still is prescribed.
Over-prescribing with the wrong dose can have dangerous consequences as effectively it can mean that a patient overdoses on the given medication which can then have catastrophic adverse effects on the body and in some cases result in loss of life.
However it has occurred, if a patient has become further ill due to their doctor over-prescribing and therefore giving the incorrect dosage of medication, they may have good reason to make a claim.
Wrong medication cases could happen in both GP practices and hospitals alike. Whether medication has been over or under-prescribed with the incorrect dose, the incorrect strength of medication has been given, or the wrong medication entirely, all put the patient at risk of suffering adverse effects or worsening of the original illness complaint. Some dosage errors may result in minor and temporary repercussions, but some can result in devastating consequences for the patient, and in very serious cases, their families too depending on the circumstances.
The NHS reported back in 2012 that a report published by the General Medical Council found that dosage and prescribing errors were common but thankfully, the more serious errors were rare. The report came after a study of approximately 6000 prescriptions across England GP surgeries showed that 1 in 8 patients overall had prescription errors, with 4 out of 10 patients over the age of 75 having prescription errors. Overall, 1 in 20 prescriptions written had an error 42% were found to be minor, 54% were moderate errors, and 4% considered severe errors. It also recorded that 18% of all errors involved the wrong strength and wrong dosage of medication prescribed, and 11% of all errors involved the wrong timing of doses.
Under UK law, everyone is entitled to receive treatment from a GP that operates at the surgery that they are registered with however they do not automatically have the right to see their own registered GP. Any GP is legally obliged to provide treatment that is necessary immediately in an emergency regardless of whether you are registered with them or not.
It is a requirement that all GP’s ensure that when they are off duty, their patients are still provided with a service. The service may be provided in a number of different ways, for example, a rota between the GP’s in a surgery, using a locum, or providing an out of hours telephone number that connects patients to medical help. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulates the out of hours service.
Although GP’s may make a home visit where they think it’s necessary, you cannot insist on it, it is at the GP’s discretion if they think it’s required and how urgent it should be. If however, you were to become seriously ill after a GP had refused to do a home visit, they could be found to be in breach of their NHS contract due to their negligence.
If your illness or health complaint requires medication, it is up to the GP to prescribe the correct course of treatment. It is their duty of care to you as their patient to ensure that they prescribe the correct medication, strength and dosage to treat your ailment as best as possible. Prescription charges will apply with set rates under the NHS, although certain groups of people such as senior citizens and children are exempt from paying. In an emergency situation where a GP must supply any drugs that are needed, there will be no prescription charge.
These rights of treatment under the NHS, along with further information regarding patient rights, can be found here.
As with all personal injury claims, any claim to be made must be initiated before the personal injury claims time limit is up, which in most cases is within 3 years starting from the date your injury occurred or was diagnosed although sometimes this can vary. For an injury that occurred in childhood, unless an adult has already made a claim on the child’s behalf, the child will have 3 years from the date of their 18th birthday to start their claim if they so wish.
When people start a claim with us, one of the first questions we get asked is ‘How much compensation for wrong medication will I receive?’ As much as we’d like to say exactly how much you will receive if your claim is successful, we cannot simply because of the number of different variables involved and because each case is unique in its entirety. However, we can give examples of the amounts shown in the Judicial College Guidelines that are used to determine compensation amounts for individual injuries and their severity. Please refer to the table below:
|Type of Injury||Award Amount||Comments|
|Poisoning - Minor||£860 - £3,710||Varying degrees of stomach pain such as cramps, and diarrhoea lasting for few days or weeks|
|Poisoning - Moderate||£3,710 - £8,950||Significant level of pain, stomach cramps, nausea, muscle pain, possibly needing hospital treatment|
|Poisoning Moderate - Severe||£8,950 - £18,020||Significant higher level of pain, stomach cramps, nausea, muscle pain, fever, lasting 2-4 weeks, hospital treatment likely to be needed|
|Poisoning Very Severe||£36,060 - £49,270||Serious toxicosis, causing acute level of pain, stomach cramps, nausea, muscle pain, fever, requiring hospital admission and long term treatment|
|Mental Anguish||Up to £4,380||Fear of impending death or expectation of loss of life|
If you would like to discuss your circumstances with one of our personal injury solicitors, just call us at Legal Expert and we will endeavour to be of assistance.
As mentioned above, there are a number of variables that when put together, will make up the overall and final settlement amount of compensation to be awarded, these include:
General Damages – These refer to the actual physical or psychological injury or illness and its severity. These take into account the effect it has on lifestyle and well-being, length of treatment and recovery time, and whether or not any permanent health issues remain. Generally, the more severe the injury or illness, the higher the compensation award.
Special Damages – These refer to the monetary effects of the injury or illness and include:
- Medical Expenses – If you have incurred any costs for medical care and treatment, they can be included in the claim.
- Travel Expenses – If you have incurred any travel expenses in direct relation to your injury or illness, these can be included in the claim.
- Care Claim – If you have needed help around your home whilst recovering, or needed to pay for child care as a direct result of your injury or illness, you should include these in the claim also.
- Loss Of Earnings – If your injury or illness has caused you to take time away from work, or stop working altogether, you can include the amount in wages that you have lost or are going to lose according to your current pay scale.
To successfully make a personal injury claim, you need to be able to provide evidence that proves the defendant’s responsibility for your injury or illness, or in this case, prove that your doctor caused you further ill health due to prescribing the wrong dosage of medication. This is not always an easy task and there are a number of ways you can do this, these include:
- Collect witness details of anyone who may have witnessed the doctor’s actions, or that can confirm the level of the standard of care received.
- If possible, obtain a copy of the prescription or doctors notes that detail the medication given.
- If you have had to see a GP regarding the adverse reactions of the wrong dosage of medication, obtain a copy of the medical record.
- Keep hold of any receipts for medical care or treatment that you have received as a direct consequence to your injury.
At Legal Expert, we believe that everyone should have equal rights to have access to legal representation when making a compensation claim regardless of the claimant’s financial position. For some people, the mere thought of being able to afford the costs of legal fees puts them off of claiming the compensation they are fully entitled to. However, with our no win no fee policy, otherwise known as a non-conditional fee agreement, you don’t need to worry about the cost of our fees. This is because we do not charge for any legal fees before or during the whole claiming process, instead, we take a small percentage, which legally can only equate to a maximum of 25%, of the final settlement amount. If we fail to win your case for you, we will not charge you for our fees at all, hence no win, no fee.
Legal Expert specialises in the personal injury claims industry and consists of a team of expert personal injury solicitors dedicated to getting their clients the compensation they deserve, often securing them the maximum amount of compensation possible.
Legal Expert work to a very high standard and do so with an exceptional level of customer care. They work quickly and efficiently gathering as much evidence as possible in order to build a strong case to take to court. After being in the industry for a number of years, they understand the stress, anxiety and suffering caused by negligence and so always do their best to treat their clients with empathy and compassion, and ensure to keep them informed of their claims process every step of the way.
Call Legal Expert on 0800 073 8804 to get your claim started as soon as possible. You will be offered a free, without obligation, consultancy session in which you can explain the nature of your claim to a personal injury lawyer who will then examine the facts to ascertain if you have a valid claim. If your claim is legitimate, we will usually then offer to make the claim for you, and if agreed, then set to work straight away in gathering all of the information and evidence needed to build a strong case.
Wrong Medication Claims – This guide goes into detail about claiming compensation if you have been prescribed the wrong medication.
Doctor/GP Negligence Claims – This detailed guide explains how to make a claim against your doctor for negligence.
Medical Negligence Claims – General information regarding making a medical negligence claim can be found here.
NHS Resolution – This guide is by the NHS and gives useful advice for potential claimants.
NHS.UK – The following is a PDF guide for prescription writing according to British National Formulary guidelines.
Written By Kelly
Edited By Melissa.