A Guide to Claiming Prescription Error Compensation
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a prescription error we can help.
The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered a prescription error and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.
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.
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.
If a pharmacist, doctor or other medical professional is negligent or otherwise breaches the duty of care they owe to you, and you are injured as a result, you may be able to make a claim for clinical negligence.
Do I have a prescription error 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 a prescription error claim expert on 0800 612 7456.
A brief phone consultation will tell you exactly where you stand. There is no obligation to start a claim.
You can also find out if you have a claim with our Online Claim Checker.
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 a child was injured?
The 3 year rule does not apply to minors.
A claim can be pursued for anyone under the age of 18 by a parent, guardian or litigation friend. The injured child has up to the age of 21 to start a prescription error claim on their own behalf.
What if I don't know who was to blame?
You should contact a solicitor as soon as possible to discuss your options. Specialist lawyers have years of experience identifying the responsible party in cases where liability is uncertain.
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 prescription error will depend on:
- the extent 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 prescription error has affected your life. Your solicitor will take all of these effects into account to calculate the correct compensation award for you.
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 a prescription error? (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 a prescription error claim?
The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.
However, the money you would receive following a prescription error will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.
Your prescription error compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life, your ability to work, and the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.
See the injury table above for some examples.
Find out what your prescription error claim could be worth now
Assessing a claim's value at the outset can be complicated, particularly if you have multiple injuries.
If you would like a FREE claim estimate with no obligation to start a claim, call 0800 612 7456.
Alternatively, our compensation calculator will give you an instant estimate of what your claim is worth.
Should I set up a personal injury trust?
If you are receiving means-tested benefits and are awarded compensation following a prescription error injury, your benefits could be affected. In order to ring fence your compensation and protecting your benefits, you may be able to set up a "Personal Injury Trust" or "PI Trust". Read more: Should I set up a personal injury trust?
Caring and sensitive support
Your solicitor will handle your prescription error claim from the initial consultation through to the financial settlement. In addition, your solicitor will work with other specialists to 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.
How often do prescription errors happen?
According to a 2102 report by the General Medical Council, 1 in 20 prescriptions written in England feature a prescribing or monitoring error - affecting one in eight of all patients. Of the errors, 42% were judged to be minor, 54% moderate and 4% severe.
What types of prescription errors occur and why?
In the same report by the General Medical Council, it was found that:
- 30% of prescribing errors involved ?incomplete information on the prescription'
- 18% of prescribing errors involved dose or strength errors
- 11% of prescribing errors involved incorrect timing of doses
Other errors that can occur include: being prescribed or given the wrong medication; prolonged use due to failure to check repeat prescriptions; medication being prescribed to which the patient is allergic; a combination of medications being prescribed that are dangerous when taken together.
As already mentioned, human error is the biggest factor in prescription error. However some factors can contribute to these errors.
GPs and pharmacists may not always be given adequate training about safe prescribing. They are also put under considerable time pressure, with constant interruptions and distractions. In addition, problems with computer systems can also lead to the incorrect medication or dosage being selected. But whatever the reason, it does not take away from the suffering of the patient.
What are the symptoms and side effects?
Patients who have sought compensation for prescription error have presented with a range of symptoms upon taking the incorrect medication. Not only can symptoms of the original condition can worsen, but additional undesirable and painful side effects can occur.
These include dizzy spells, nausea, headaches, muscle fatigue and blurred vision.
In some instances they can lead to hospital admittance and additional medication and treatment.
Who is responsible for prescription error?
Responsibility lies with the medical practitioner or pharmacist who put the patient at risk.
Your solicitor will be able to assist with identifying who is liable for your injury.
Evidence will be presented in the form of medical records, witness accounts, as well as offending prescriptions and medicine containers. Apportioning blame, and therefore liability, will depend on when and where the error was made.
No win, no fee
No win, no fee means that your solicitor will not charge you any legal fees if your prescription error claim is unsuccessful. 'No win, no fee' is also known as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA'.
Our no win, no fee guarantee
If you have been injured and someone else was to blame (even partially), our no win, no fee guarantee takes the risk out of claiming compensation for your prescription error injury.
What do I pay if I win my prescription error claim?
Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, after your compensation is awarded. 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 prescription error claim?
If your prescription error claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees whatsoever.
Please note, under a No Win, No Fee Agreement (CFA), fees may apply if a claimant refuses to cooperate, or abandons their claim after the legal work has started, or if the claim is fraudulent.
How can Quittance help?
Our highly experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning medical negligence claims. Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you.
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, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.
Call us FREE 0800 612 7456 or arrange a callback:Call me back
if you can claim
to start a claim
Prescription Error FAQ's
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.
How long will my claim take?
The length of time needed to secure compensation can vary considerably.
For example, straightforward car accident claims can settle in a matter of weeks, whereas complex medical negligence cases can take years.
Injury claims can also take longer if it is not clear who is responsible for your injury, or if liability is denied by the defendant.
Taken from average case times, this table sets out approximately how long personal injury claims take to settle:
Personal injury claim type
Estimated claim duration*
4 to 9 months
6 to 9 months
12 to 36 months
12 to 18 months
6 to 9 months
3 to 4 months**
12 to 18 months**
**Official Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) Government agency and Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) figures.
Will I have to go to court?
Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by Quittance’s solicitor panel are settled out of court.
Only a very small percentage (approx. 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 held in front of a judge, not a jury.
Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?
No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.
Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.
Can I get an early compensation payment?
If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.
An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.
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.
Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert