If a medication error injury has set you back, we'll help you move forward
Medication errors may result in adverse drug reactions, overdoses, or underdoses, potentially causing harm or exacerbating existing medical conditions.
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by an injury from a medication error or wrong prescription, we can help.
If your injuries were caused by the negligence of a doctor, nurse, midwife or other medical professional, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
You can make a compensation claim with the help and support of a specialist clinical negligence solicitor.
In this article
You are not alone
Errors in the prescribing, preparing, dispensing and administering of drugs and medicine are common.
Managing adverse health outcomes and the litigation costs associated with drug-related negligence, cost the NHS around £2.5 billion a year.
According to a 2012 report by the General Medical Council (GMC), 1 in 20 prescriptions written in England feature a prescribing or monitoring error - affecting one in eight of all patients.
Of these errors, 42% were judged to be minor, 54% moderate and 4% severe.
Hospitals patients, care home and nursing home residents are particularly at risk. In-patients depend on staff to administer the correct drugs and medication, in the right dosage, at the right time.
If you have suffered an injury as a result of a medication error, you may be eligible to make a medical negligence claim.
If you decide to make a medication error claim, your medical negligence solicitor will take you through every step of the claims process. Your solicitor will be with you until you win your claim and get the compensation you deserve.
Am I entitled to make a medication error claim?
Medical negligence claims differ from personal injury claims. To make a successful claim your solicitor will need to establish:
- a medical professional breached their duty of care towards you, and
- this breach caused you to suffer harm or injury
Find out online if you can claim with our injury claim calculator. Or you can call 0800 376 1001 to speak to a specialist advisor. Find out in minutes if you have a claim.
How long after a medication error do I have to start a claim?
You usually have 3 years to make a medication error claim. The timelimit starts from the date you discovered you were injured by negligent care (the date of knowledge).
For injured children, a claim can be started by a parent or guardian at any time before the child turns 18. Thereafter, the injured individual has until their 21st birthday to make a claim on their own.
How much compensation can I claim for a prescription error injury?
The amount of money you could claim for your injury will depend on:
- the seriousness of your injury, and
- any financial losses or costs you have incurred.
At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your injuries have affected your life. Your solicitor will take these considerations into account to calculate the correct compensation award.
Get an accurate compensation estimate (including for multiple injuries), confirm your legal position, and check if you have a No Win, No Fee claim.
Updated December 2023
Compensation Calculator v3.04
General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).
Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.
If it can be proved that your injury left you unable to work, special damages can be awarded for any lost earnings, loss of commission or bonuses, and loss of pension contributions. It may also be possible to claim for loss of future earnings, if the medical prognosis establishes that you won't be able to work for any period in the future.
These damages will also cover the cost of any medical procedures you might need to treat or recover from your medication error injury such as corrective treatment and psychological support.
Common prescription errors
Human error is the biggest factor leading to prescription error. GPs and pharmacists are not always given adequate training about safe prescribing, however.
Doctors are often under considerable time pressure, with constant interruptions and distractions. Problems with computer systems can also lead to the incorrect medication or dosage being selected.
The GMC found that prescription errors were:
- 30% due to incomplete information on the prescription
- 18% due to dose or strength errors
- 11% due to incorrect timing of doses
Other medication errors include:
- being prescribed or given the wrong medication
- prolonged use due to a failure to check repeat prescriptions
- medication being prescribed to which the patient is allergic
- a dangerous combination of medications being prescribed
- contraindicated drugs being prescribed
Symptoms and side effects
Patients who have sought compensation for prescription error have presented with a range of symptoms. Incorrect medication can lead to a worsening of the original condition, as well as additional undesirable and painful side effects.
In some cases, side effects can lead to hospital admittance.
Who is responsible for my injury?
Doctors surgeries, hospitals and care homes are expected to have a robust medication policy in place to deal with the administering of medicine and the reporting of errors and near misses.
Procedures should give staff clear guidance on how to rectify the immediate situation and what must be done to prevent a medication error happening again.
Doctors have a duty to ensure that the medication and the dosage prescribed is correct and will not interfere with any pre-existing medical conditions.
Although a patient has a responsibility to check that they take medication in the manner and dosage prescribed, it is the duty of the pharmacist to accurately dispense prescription medication.
If a pharmacist, doctor or other medical professional is negligent or otherwise breaches their duty of care, and you are injured as a result, you may be able to make a claim for clinical negligence.
Depending on the circumstances, a claim would be brought against the private hospital, care home or the relevant NHS Trust.
Your solicitor will be able to assist with identifying who is liable for your injury.
Is compensation always payable?
If an error occurred during treatment and the patient was harmed as a result, this may be referred to as an "undesirable outcome".
Not all treatment that results in an undesirable outcome will result in the payment of compensation.
Sometimes an undesirable outcome is due to a known risk associated with the treatment, or due to a mistake that a doctor could reasonably have made in the circumstances.
How long do I have to start a claim?
If your injury is apparent immediately after medical treatment, you will have 3 years to start a claim.
It may be that the negligent procedure happened more than 3 years ago, but your injury was only diagnosed recently, within the last 3 years. If so, you may still be able to make a claim.
What if your injury was diagnosed months or years after treatment?
You may not be immediately aware of your injury. In some cases, months and even years can pass before symptoms appear.
The law allows you to make a medical negligence claim up to three years after the 'date of knowledge' (when you first learned of the injury).
It is recommended that you start a claim as soon as possible, as medical negligence cases can be complex. Starting your claim sooner will give your solicitor more time to gather medical evidence, assess the extent of your injury and to negotiate interim payments and your final compensation amount.
Chris Salmon, Director
About the author
Chris Salmon is a co-founder and Director of Quittance Legal Services. Chris has played key roles in the shaping and scaling of a number of legal services brands and is a regular commentator in the legal press.