Medication Error Compensation Claims
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a medication error injury, 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.
Claiming injury compensation with a solicitor
You can make a compensation claim with the help and support of a specialist clinical negligence solicitor.
Your solicitor will ask you about what happened, and they will collect evidence to prove the negligence happened. Your solicitor will also work out how much money you can claim, based on your injuries, lost earnings and other expenses.
We can help you make a medical negligence claim on a No Win No Fee basis.
In this article
Errors in the prescribing, preparing, dispensing and administering of medicine occur relatively frequently and are estimated to cost the NHS around £2.5 billion a year.
That figure includes the cost of managing adverse health outcomes for patients who have received the wrong drugs, as well as the litigation costs associated with a drug-related error.
People who are resident in hospitals and care homes are particularly at risk. In-patients depend on staff to administer the correct drugs, in the right dosage, at the right time.
Any hospital, nursing home or care home resident who has suffered injury as a result of a medication error may be eligible to make a medical negligence claim. Depending on the circumstances, a claim would be brought against the private hospital, care home or the relevant NHS Trust.
Do I have an injury claim?
Medical negligence claims differ from personal injury claims as the following will need to be established:
- there was a breach of duty ("negligence" or "fault"); and
- the breach of duty was the cause of your injury, damage or loss ("causation" or "avoidable harm").
Breach of Duty
A breach of duty means that the standard of care you received was below the standard that could reasonably be expected of a competent healthcare professional.
To establish causation, it will need to be demonstrated that the injury you suffered resulted from the negligent care rather than the underlying condition.
Get an impartial opinion
To get impartial advice on whether you have a claim, speak to an injury claim expert on 0800 376 1001.
A brief phone consultation will tell you exactly where you stand. There is no obligation to start a claim.
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.
What if there is no evidence?
Evidence can take the form of eyewitness accounts, CCTV footage, photographs etc. It will be difficult to win a medication error claim with no evidence at all. You may feel that there is no evidence but a solictor may well be able to assist in collating evidence that you, as a claimant, were unaware of.
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.
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.
This calculation will factor in 'general damages' and 'special damages'.
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.
Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.
What can I claim for after an injury? (see list)
Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:
- Lost earnings (including future earnings)
- Medical treatment costs
- Travel costs
- Costs of care
- Costs of adapting your home or car
What is the average injury compensation for an injury claim?
The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.
However, the money you would receive following an injury will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.
Your injury compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life and your ability to work, and on the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.
Can I claim for prescription costs?
Special damages are awarded for costs or losses incurred as a result of the medication error injury. Damages can include loss of earnings, treatment cost and any other 'out-of-pocket' expenses such as prescriptions.
Calculate my injury compensation
Calculating how much compensation you can claim for an injury can be complicated.
Our injury compensation calculator tells you if you may have a claim, how much compensation you could claim, and what you can claim for.
Find out what your injury claim could be worth now:
How long does a medication error claim take?
The length of time needed to secure compensation for a medication error can vary considerably.
For example, a simple uncontested medical negligence claim could be settled in 12 to 24 months. However, if the case goes to court or there is a serious or complex ongoing injury, the process might take 2 to 5 years. On average a medical negligence claim takes between 12 and 36 months. Read more: How long will my claim take?
How else can a solicitor help me?
Your solicitor will handle your injury claim from the initial FREE case evaluation, through to the financial settlement.
Your solicitor will work with other specialists to provide caring and sensitive support and help you with:
- Financial support: interim payments while you are unable to work.
- Advice: on personal injury trusts, tax and welfare benefits.
- Coordination: with rehabilitation providers and therapists.
- Access: to treatment and therapies not always available on the NHS.
What is considered to be a "medication error"?
The National Patient Safety Agency defines a medication error as any error in made in the prescribing, dispensing, preparing, administering, monitoring or providing medicine advice, regardless of whether any harm occurred.
Examples of medication error can include the following:
- Being prescribed the wrong drugs
- Receiving a too-high dosage
- Receiving the wrong strength of drug
- Time errors, where drugs are given earlier or later than planned
- Administering medication to a patient who has an allergic reaction to an ingredient in the medication
- Administering unauthorised medication
- Combining medications that should not be taken together, such that one medicine contraindicates the other
Best practice following medication errors
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.
Following appropriate procedures may result in the avoidance of serious medical consequences, or reduce the impact of adverse events on a patients long-term health. If, however, the patient has suffered some harm, whether physical or psychological, as a result of the error it is likely that a claim can still be made.
Making a claim for medication error
To make a successful claim, the injury lawyer must prove:
- That medical staff were negligent in prescribing or dispensing the medication; and
- That injury or illness occurred as a result.
Negligence usually is established where the standard of care delivered by the health care team was below that of a reasonably competent medical professional in that specific area of medicine. Arguments can be reasonably complex and usually turn on expert medical reports as well as the "best practice" system the health care facility has in place.
The second test is known as causation. It is not possible to claim compensation just because something went wrong - the claimant must demonstrate that the error has caused significant injury. A supporting independent medical opinion is usually necessary for the case to succeed.
Will I have to go to court?
Highly unlikely. Solicitors settle the vast majority of claims out of court.
Less than 5% of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.
Cases that do ultimately go to court are decided by a judge or magistrate, not a jury.
Even if the claim does go to court, it is very unlikely you will have to attend.
How does no win, no fee work?
No Win, No Fee is an agreement with your solicitor (known as a Conditional Fee Agreement or CFA) that means that you can make an injury claim with:
- no upfront legal fees
- no solicitor's fees payable if your claim is not successful
- a success fee payable only if your claim is successful
No Win, No Fee is the most common way to make a compensation claim.
No win, no fee promise
Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is absolutely no financial risk in making an injury claim, even if you don't win your claim. Read more about making a No win, no fee claim
What do I pay if I win my injury claim?
Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, after your claim is settled. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.
What do I pay if I do not win my injury claim?
If your injury claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees . Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.
Is there a catch?
The Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) sets out the terms between you and your solicitor., No Win No Fee is a regulated activity and as such there should be no nasty surprises in the agreement. Nevertheless, it is recommended that you read the agreement carefully and ask any questions if you are unsure.
How do personal injury solicitors get paid?
If your medication error claim is successful, the defendant, or their insurer, will pay the compensation and your solicitors fees.
How we can help you
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning medical negligence claims.
If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open:
- 8am to 9pm weekdays
- 9am to 6pm on Saturday
- 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday
Call us for FREE advice on 0800 376 1001, or arrange a call back from a friendly, legally-trained advisor:
- Find out
if you can claim
- No obligation
to start a claim
Can I claim for someone else?
Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.
If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.
The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.
Will I have to visit a solicitor's office to start a claim?
No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. Personal injury claims are handled by email, post and phone.
Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.
I need the money now - what are my options?
If you are unable to work and have bills to pay, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.
An interim payment is an advance on your compensation payment. Any amount you receive in interim payments would be deducted from your final compensation payment.
Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor
About the author
Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.