Can I Claim For A Care Home Medication Prescription Error?

Choosing a care home is something that could be considered a big decision, and some people may do a lot of research before choosing a care home that fits their needs. While care home standards are put in place by the CQC, sometimes, mistakes in care homes or failing standards could lead to a care home patient being put in harm’s way. One such way in which this could happen could be via a care home medication prescription error. This guide aims to offer those that have suffered avoidable harm from such an error some useful information on what their rights are and guidance as to whether they could make a claim for compensation for the medical malpractice they’ve suffered.

You can reach our team at Legal Helpline for further advice on 0161 696 9685. However, we may already have answered your query below, so why not read on to find out first?

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A Guide To Claims For Prescription Medication Errors In Care Homes

Care home medication prescription error

Care home medication prescription error

When living in a care home, you could expect that the care and attention you are given would be, at the least, up to the minimum standard as required by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The CQC has minimum standards for care homes, and you should expect:

  • Person-centred care
  • Dignity in treatment/care
  • Respect in treatment/care
  • Consent (from either you or the person responsible for you) required before care or treatment is administered
  • Not to be put at risk
  • Safe care
  • Appropriately trained and experienced staff
  • Protection from abuse
  • Enough to drink
  • Enough to eat
  • Well-maintained, suitable and clean facilities

If a care home does not live up to these standards, and you suffer harm as a result of this, you could consider making a claim for compensation.

This guide focuses solely on medication error and prescription error claims for care home patients and those that may be making a claim on their behalf. Covered in the sections below is information pertaining to a care home’s medication or prescription error responsibilities, as well as care home residents’ rights to seek compensation if they suffer harm because of medical malpractice in a care home.

Also included is a table that provides information on potential compensation payouts for injuries relating to medical prescription errors, and further reading resources for those that want to learn more. Our contact details are also included, for those who would like free advice on making a claim for the avoidable harm they’ve suffered because of a prescription error.

What Are Care Home Prescription Errors And Mistakes?

According to the National Patient Safety Agency, any error in the following could constitute a medication error:

  • Prescribing
  • Dispensing
  • Administering
  • Monitoring
  • Providing medicine advice

These may result in a near-miss or in an incident that harms a patient in some way.

The following are examples of what could constitute a prescription medication error:

  • Wrong dose intervals
  • Extra dose/s given
  • Too high a dose given
  • Too low a dose given
  • Extra dose given
  • Medication given in the wrong way
  • Medication given to a patient with a known allergy
  • Expiry date of medicine was surpassed yet medicine still given
  • Prescribed dose not given
  • Wong medicine given

Actions to take in the event of a medication error should include ensuring the patient’s safety is taken care of, via immediate medical assistance, and then reporting, analysing and taking steps to learn from the error to reduce the risk of future recurrence of the error.

Harm Caused By The Ineffective Prescription Of Medication In A Care Home

Prescribing a drug that would not be effective on a condition that a patient has could mean a patient’s condition gets worse. While according to the NHS, around 1 in 5 prescriptions for antibiotics are given when they should not be, if they are not appropriately given for infections that require them, this could lead to a patient’s condition getting worse. Whether there has been a failure to prescribe antibiotics, or a failure by care home staff to dispense the full course of antibiotics, this could mean that some bacteria could remain, leading to a recurrence or worsening of an infection. The bacteria that remain after such insufficient treatment could be the bacteria that have higher resistance, and therefore, this may mean that a different, often stronger antibiotic would be required to rid the patients of the infection.

This is just one example of how ineffective prescription of medication could cause harm.

If you have been harmed because the prescription was too low to have the desired effect and was not what was clinically appropriate for your needs, you could consider making a claim for compensation.

Harm Caused By The Over Prescription Of Medication In A Care Home

There could be several harmful outcomes from being overprescribed medication in a care home. Depending on the type of drug and dosage, this could lead to damage to the kidneys and liver, or, in the case of opioids, it could cause breathing difficulties, and in severe cases, unconsciousness or even death. There are several ways in which medicines could be overprescribed. These could include:

New prescription of medicine that interacts/enhances the effects of medication the patient is already taking – If care is not taken to check what medication a patient is currently taken, they may mistakenly be prescribed medication that could cause a drug reaction or could negatively enhance the effects of medication that is being taken.

Too high a dosage of medication – As we have already mentioned, overdosing a patient could cause multiple different types of harm. Careful consideration should be made towards getting the right dosage for a patient for this reason.

If you have suffered a medication prescription error in a care home because you were overprescribed, you could claim compensation for any avoidable harm this has caused you.

Harm Caused By The Under Prescription Of Medication In A Care Home

According to an article in the International Journal of Medicine, there is evidence that some people may have been underprescribed medicines because of the fear of adverse effects on patients, but cost also may be a factor in the underprescription of some medicines.

You may be under the impression that receiving too low a dose of medication would not be too harmful. However, depending on the condition and the drug that is used to treat the condition, it could cause the underlying condition to get worse. For example, if you were underprescribed blood pressure medication and this led to your blood pressure remaining too high, this could cause higher risks of stroke.  Likewise, if you were underprescribed antibiotics for an infection, and the medication was given at an insufficient dosage to treat the infection, the infection may get worse and spread, leading to complications and/or more invasive treatment being required.

Care Home Nursing Staff Medication Prescription Errors

If a care home medication prescription error is the fault of care home nursing staff, and it has caused you harm, you could make a claim for compensation. There are many reasons why a care home nurse may make an error with dispensing prescriptions. If they are under pressure to care for many patients, this may cause them to cut corners, and if they do, they could miss vital checks on medication, and this could cause a dispensing error. If a member of the care home nursing staff has given you too much or too little medication, or the wrong medicine entirely, you could claim compensation for this type of clinical negligence, if it has caused harm to you.

What Requirements Are There To Report Care Home Prescription Errors?

There are no specific requirements for a care home to report prescription errors to the CQC unless they cause harm to a patient, or are linked to care home abuse, or are being investigated or reported to the police.

However, prescription error reporting is something that could be important in preventing errors from happening again. If the prescription error comes from a pharmacist or doctor whose ability to practice could be called into question, then it may be prudent to alert the authorities governing fitness to practice, which could be the General Pharmaceutical Council for pharmacists or the General Medical Council for doctors.

If the care home medication prescription error is made by care home staff, then according to the NICE Guidelines for Managing Medicines in Care Homes, care homes should identify, report, review and learn from such errors that involve care home residents.

How Could Care Homes Deal With Prescription Errors?

When it comes to dealing with errors in the prescribing of medicines for care home patients, or the administration of medicines, care needs to be taken initially to ensure that any harm to the patient is reduced.

If the patient has taken the wrong medication or an incorrect dosage, then medical help should be sought right away. Once the patient’s health has been safeguarded where possible, then it would be time to move onto reporting and analysis of what went wrong.

According to CQC guidelines, all notifiable drug errors in care homes should be subject to medication error reporting if they have:

  • Caused injury to a patient
  • Caused death to a patient
  • Caused abuse to a patient (or an allegation of abuse)
  • Caused an incident that has been reported to, or is subject to investigation by the police

However, medication error reporting is only one part of the process a care home should go through when it comes to a care home medication prescription error. Robust reporting procedures should be in place so that incidents can be reported, assessed and learned from, in order to prevent the future repetition of drug errors in care homes.

What Steps Could Care Homes Take To Reduce Prescription Errors?

Taking steps to prevent medication and prescription errors should be something that is taken seriously in care homes. The National Care Forum has produced a collection of studies and guides to help care homes reduce risks of medical prescription errors. Some of the information regarding this includes suggestions to:

  • Ensure that all staff are trained effectively
  • Review and update procedures regularly as to the dispensing of medicines
  • Ensure a robust prescription error reporting procedure
  • Have strict protocols to record and report adverse drug reaction incidents
  • Ensure dosing regimens are kept as simple as they can be
  • Increase the level of reporting and learning from prescription error and medication error incidents
  • Document patients’ allergy statuses
  • Carry our regular medicine reviews of patients taking regular medication
  • Use barcode scanning in the administration and dispensing of medications to avoid human error
  • And more…

Care Home Medication Prescription Error Compensation Calculator

In the table below, we have put together an easy alternative to a personal injury claims calculator, using injuries that we feel could relate to a claimant who has suffered harm from a care home medication or prescription error. These figures are taken from the Judicial College Guidelines, and we believe these are injuries that could relate to situations where claimants have been given the wrong medication or have suffered an adverse drug reaction due to negligence. We should mention that these are only approximations. During the course of any personal injury claim, your medical condition would have to be assessed by an independent medical expert, so that your medical evidence could be put together in a report. This report would form part of the evidence for your case, and could be used to value your claim. If your injury/illness does not appear here, we could give you more guidance over the phone.

InjuryNotesApproximate Compensation Bracket
Toxicosis (Severe)Claimants in this bracket could have their ability to enjoy a normal social life and working life affected. IBS and other bowel issues could result from illnesses in this bracket, and symptoms such as fever, serious pain, diarrhoea and vomiting could lead to them being hospitalised for some time. £36,060 to £49,270
Poisoning (Serious/short-lived)While symptoms could be considered short-lived, they could be serious at the time, and diarrhoea and vomiting could be serious. While there may be a lessening of symptoms within around two to four weeks, poisoning could leave a claimant with less enjoyment of food, problems with sex life, and bowel disturbances for some time after. £8,950 to £18,020
Moderate PoisoningFatigue, changes in the function of the bowel, and cramping may result in claims in this bracket. While a hospital stay may be appropriate for a few days, and symptoms could last for some weeks, the claimant could have a full recovery within one to two years. £3,710 to £8,950
Minor PoisoningVarious degrees of pain, cramping and diarrhoea could affect claimants in this bracket. Symptoms could last up to a few weeks but could be considered to be disabling. £860 to £3,710
Kidney damageSignificant risk of natural function loss in the kidney, or a high risk of future infection could lead to cases being put into this bracket. The compensation would take into account the high medical costs that could result in future for cases in this bracket.Up to £60,050
Damage to the bowelFunction of the bowel would be seriously affected. Ability to work and what the claimant could eat may be affected.£41,850 to £65,440

Expenses And Losses Which You May Be Compensated For

A care home medication prescription error may have cost you more than just pain and suffering. It may also have cost you money. If you have incurred further care costs, medical costs or travel costs as a direct result of a prescription or dispensing error, then these costs could be claimed back within a personal injury claim as special damages.

If you are claiming on behalf of a loved one who has lost their life because of a medication error, then you may be able to claim for funeral costs as special damages.

How A Medical Negligence Solicitor Could Help You

While it could be possible for claimants to pursue personal injury claims without legal assistance, it would be prudent for us to mention that using a solicitor could benefit your claim. Putting together all the evidence required for such a claim may involve a lot of paperwork, and a medical negligence solicitor would have the capability to take this responsibility off your shoulders, building a strong case on your behalf without you having to do so yourself. This could also ensure that everything could be done correctly, the paperwork could be filed before the personal injury claims time limit, and your lawyer could fight for the maximum clinical negligence compensation possible for your case.

No Win No Fee Claims For Care Home Prescription Medication Errors

Making a claim for compensation may be something you do at a time when you are already left short of money as a result of the harm that you’ve suffered, perhaps because you’ve had to pay for further treatment or care, or for other reasons. However, a poor financial situation should not result in you forgoing your right to claim compensation. If you’ve been harmed by a care home medication or prescription error, then you could be eligible to make a No Win No Fee claim with a personal injury solicitor that would not require payment upfront. To make a No Win No Fee claim, you would have to effectively promise a personal injury lawyer a percentage of your compensation as a success fee if they managed to achieve a payout for you. This would be documented in a Conditional Fee Agreement; a document you would sign at the beginning of your claim. The percentage they can request from your total settlement cannot be over 25% and if your claim doesn’t result in a compensation payout, you would not be required to pay them the success fee at all. We could help to connect you with a solicitor that works on this basis, if you are eligible to claim.

Contact Us To Begin Your Claim

Should you wish to learn more about making care home medication prescription error claims, you can contact our team on 0161 696 9685. We can also help assess your case to see whether you could be eligible to make a personal injury claim for the harm you’ve suffered because of drug errors in care homes. If you prefer not to call us, then why not complete the contact form and let us get back to you. We’d be happy to help in any way that we can.

Where To Learn More

Pressure Sore Claims – If you have suffered harm because of care home negligence regarding your pressure sores, then this guide could offer some assistance.

Sexual Abuse In A Care Home – If you have suffered abuse in a care home, our definitive guide could offer some useful information.

No Win No Fee Claims – Guidance on No Win No Fee Claims can be found here.

NHS Medication Error Information – The NHS has produced a page detailing their response to some media reports concerning medication errors here.

NHS Response On Medication Death Statistics – Here, you can see what the NHS has revealed about fatality statistics for wrong medication cases.

Guidance For Handling Medication Errors – Here you can find guidance from Oxfordshire CCG on handling errors with medication.