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Allergic Reactions to Medications that are Improperly Prescribed

Posted by attorney Edward Lake

Patients can suffer an allergic reaction to medication that isn’t properly prescribed. This might be the case if the patient’s medical history or current medications are not considered. When this results in serious injuries or illness, it may lead to a doctor or pharmacist being held liable for the injuries it causes.

Symptoms of an Allergic Reaction to Medication

The body’s immune system can respond negatively to some medications. It could be a result of being given the wrong type or the wrong dosage. Sometimes a harmful allergic reaction stems from mixing drugs.

The following are some of the symptoms that may indicate an individual has experienced an allergic reaction to medication:

  • hives;
  • congestion;
  • fever;
  • rash;
  • itching;
  • swelling in the face; and
  • shortness of breath.

One of the more life-threatening complications is anaphylaxis, with symptoms typically presenting themselves within a short time of taking the medication. The symptoms include nausea, fainting, dizziness, vomiting, confusion, constricted airways, diarrhea, weakened or rapid pulse, loss of consciousness and shock when the person’s blood pressure significantly drops.

Factors That Lead to Improperly Prescribed Medication

There can be an assortment of reasons for a medication to be improperly prescribed. Carelessness is most often the underlying cause but it doesn’t negate a healthcare worker’s responsibility when it results in serious physical harm to a patient.

Miscommunication, verbally or written, is one example of carelessness. It may start with the doctor who writes the wrong prescription or the pharmacy that mixes up prescriptions or supplies the medication in the incorrect dosage. A doctor calling a prescription over the phone or leaving a message for a pharmacist may give the wrong information. Or the pharmacist might have misunderstood what the doctor said.

When a patient is taking several medications, if a doctor fails to consider potential harmful interactions before prescribing a new drug, this could be a cause for an allergic reaction. It’s critical that a doctor verifies with the patient all medications being taken – and that includes over-the-counter medication.

Some drugs are overly prescribed, which could also be a factor. The most common are injections and antibiotics. Misuse of medication may result in a doctor, pharmacist or even a nurse being liable. Those who actually administer a drug and fail to verify that it’s been properly prescribed could be just as much at fault.

Seeking Help from an Attorney When a Medication Has Been Improperly Prescribed

Allergic reactions can happen at a doctor’s office, while being prepared for surgery, in the hospital or at home after picking up a prescription. No matter the setting, the underlying reason will need to be discovered when it causes serious illness or injury. Depending on the circumstances, liability could include not only the individuals responsible but extend to a clinic, hospital or pharmacy.

It can be a challenge to prove that a healthcare worker made a mistake. This is why it would be advantageous to consult with legal counsel. After looking at any evidence that is available and investigating the matter further, an attorney can determine the viability of a case. Contact Gacovino, Lake & Associates to learn more about legal rights when it’s believed a harmful allergic reaction was caused by an improperly prescribed medication.

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