What is a medication error versus an adverse event?

When you suffer harm because of a medication, you might hear the terms medication error or drug event. These two terms can lead to similar harm when they occur; however, they aren't caused by the same thing. It is important to know the differences if you are going to seek compensation for the harm that you suffered.

What is a medication error?

A medication error occurs when steps are omitted during the course of prescribing, filling or administering medications. Medication errors can include prescribing an incorrect dosage, filling an incorrect dosage or administering an incorrect dosage of a medication. Failing to verify that there aren't any drug interactions between medications is another example of a medication error. These errors can be the fault of doctors, pharmacists or nurses.

What is an adverse event?

An adverse event is something that occurs because of different reasons, including a medication error. These events fall into different categories, including preventable, potential and non-preventable. Non preventable adverse reactions, which are also known as side effects are one example of an adverse event that isn't caused by a medication error. Preventable adverse reactions are those that wouldn't have happened if proper steps were taken by medical professionals. Potential adverse events are those that could have been prevented but didn't cause any harm to the patient.

Patients who suffer from a medication error that causes harm might decide to take legal action. This legal action can help you to get the compensation that you deserve for the injuries and damages that you suffered. Because you will be fighting in court, you should make sure that you fully understand the process that you will go through when you seek compensation.

Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, "Medication Errors," accessed Aug. 18, 2016

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