Claim compensation for a prescription error
If you suffered an injury or illness due to a medication error, you could be entitled to make a prescription error claim for medical negligence.
How Much Could You Claim?

Prescription Error Claims

Patients rely on prescriptions to help them combat and ease symptoms of various illnesses and injuries. We place great faith in the medical practitioners who assess our health and administer subsequent medications to us. If an error is made in the treatment we receive, illnesses and injuries can worsen and even result in death. It is, therefore, essential that anyone who has been a victim of a prescription error knows how to claim the compensation that they rightfully deserve.

Experienced solicitors have dealt with many prescription error claims. They are highly skilled in attaining the highest possible compensation awards for those who have suffered due to someone else’s error. If you have been wrongly prescribed medication or your pharmacy has made a dispensary mistake that has resulted in further illness, injury or loss, you will likely be eligible to claim compensation.

To find out more about your legal rights, call 0800 032 3660 today for a free consultation with a solicitor or use our online claim form to request a call back.

What are prescription errors?

When we are sick and visit our GP or another doctor, we expect them to know the proper treatment for us. We trust them to give us the correct medication and carry out the process safely and carefully. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. According to statistics, more than 237 million medication errors occur every year in England.

Prescription errors are a type of medical negligence that refers to mistakes in medication prescriptions from healthcare professionals. These errors can occur at various stages in the medication use process, from prescribing to dispensing and administering a drug. Such errors can have multiple consequences, ranging from ineffective treatment to allergic reactions and liver damage. They also contribute to 22,303 deaths annually.

What types of prescription errors are there?

Some of the most common cases of prescription errors include the following:

Giving the wrong prescription

A mistake made by the doctor or the pharmacist could mean the wrong medication is given to the patient. It can result from confusing drug names that sound or look similar or selecting the wrong medication from a list. This type of error can have disastrous consequences for the patient, especially if the error goes unnoticed for an extended period.

Medication prescribed for too long

If a medication has been prescribed for too long, it can cause injuries and illnesses to patients. All medicines have side effects, and taking them over an extended period has obvious risks of injuries and harm. Such errors mainly occur when patients can order repeated prescriptions without visiting their doctors.

Prescribing an incorrect dosage

Even if it is the same medication, it can be available in different doses. Mistakes can occur when a doctor prescribes the incorrect dosage and gives too much or too little medicine. Prescription errors can also happen if the pharmacist supplies the wrong dosage after misreading the prescription. Such errors can lead to adverse effects or inadequate treatment.

Prescribing medication to which the patient is allergic

A patient may be allergic to certain drugs; doctors should consider this when prescribing medication. Serious side effects can occur if a patient has received medication they are allergic to. These reactions can range from skin rash and vomiting to difficulty breathing and anaphylaxis.

Prescriptions for medications which should not be taken together

Sometimes, a patient may be prescribed two or more medications, whether for the same condition or to treat multiple illnesses or injuries. Certain medicines should not be taken together, as they can cause severe reactions or negate the intended benefits of the treatment. This type of prescription error can happen when a doctor prescribes a new medication without checking or overlooking the other medications the patient is already taking.

Medical practitioners and pharmacists have a legal duty of care to ensure that they prescribe the best treatments and medicines to their patients as they believe to be correct. They must undertake a complete analysis of the patient and their medical history before prescribing any medication. Patients may suffer from many symptoms if they receive the incorrect prescription or drugs at the wrong dosage.

The severity and impact of the symptoms will be significant in determining the amount of compensation you may be entitled to claim. Signs of an incorrect prescription may include:

  • Worsening of previous illnesses and injuries.
  • Unexpected and significant side effects.
  • Ineffective medications.
  • Developing new and more severe conditions.

Any patient who has suffered due to a breach of the doctor or pharmacist’s duty of care is likely to be eligible to make a claim for compensation. A solicitor will be able to review your specific case and offer bespoke advice about your eligibility and the likely outcome and award of your claim.

How might prescription errors occur?

Prescription errors are a type of medical negligence that can have various consequences for patients. Such errors can involve receiving the incorrect medication, the wrong dose, or the correct medicine for too long. They often result from a combination of factors and circumstances, such as:

  • Illegible handwriting from the physician;
  • Entering the wrong information into the prescription system;
  • Failure to consider the patient’s medical history or known allergies;
  • Poor communication between healthcare providers;
  • Some medications have names that sound similar or look alike;
  • The use of abbreviations in prescriptions can lead to confusion or misinterpretation by pharmacists;
  • Inadequate training or knowledge of current medication practices and safety measures;
  • Problems with electronic health records;
  • Inaccurate information from patients about their medical history, allergies, or current medications;
  • Placing the medicine in the wrong bag, causing you to receive someone else’s prescription;
  • Failing to keep records of what has been dispensed to each patient;
  • Keeping the medication at the wrong temperature;
  • Not providing clear information on how to take the medication;
  • Incorrectly labelling the drugs.

If a medical professional has given you an incorrect prescription due to negligence and you have suffered as a result, you could claim prescription error compensation.

What consequences could an incorrect prescription have?

An incorrect prescription can have various consequences, depending on the nature of the error and the specific medication involved. These consequences can vary in severity and may include:

  • The worsening of your current illness or injury
  • The need for further, more aggressive treatment
  • Prolonged illness, pain, or discomfort due to delayed or ineffective treatment
  • A prolonged recovery period
  • Adverse reactions with symptoms such as nausea and vomiting
  • Damage to internal organs like the liver, heart or kidneys
  • Allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock
  • Developing new health issues or complications or a disability
  • Additional expenses for treatment and lost wages due to time off work
  • Incorrect prescriptions made during pregnancy could injure the unborn baby
  • Emotional and psychological impacts such as stress, anxiety and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Loss of trust in the healthcare system

You could make a medication error claim if you have suffered any consequences due to medical negligence. You can read more about the claims process in the sections below.

Am I eligible to make a prescription error compensation claim?

Patients are responsible for ensuring that they are taking the medication they were prescribed in the dosage amount advised. However, a successful medication error claim can likely be made if:

  • A medical professional was negligent. That means they have provided a level of care below the acceptable standard expected of a competent practitioner (breach of duty). For example, a pharmacist might have dispensed the wrong drug or medicines in the wrong amount.
  • Their negligence has directly caused you an illness or injury (causation).
  • You suffered pain, financial losses and other damages as a result.

Your solicitor will work with medical negligence experts to prove a breach of duty and causation. It is essential to remember that if you did not suffer any problems as a result of a prescription error, you will not be able to claim. Bodies such as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) offer objective standards of reasonable care that are used to prove negligence.

To find out if you can make a medical negligence claim for an incorrect prescription, get in touch with a legal adviser by calling 0800 032 3660 today for a free consultation.

How do I make a prescription error claim?

If you believe you have been the victim of a prescription error and have suffered further illness, injury or damages, contact a solicitor to discuss initiating a medication error claim. They will be responsible for demonstrating that another party is liable for the losses or illness that you are suffering from and the severity of your symptoms.

Your solicitor will work alongside you to gather appropriate evidence and documentation to support your claim. That is likely to include medical records, proof of an impact on your daily life and any evidence that proves the medical or pharmaceutical error.

Once your lawyer has gathered sufficient information, they will build a case to present to the defendant and negotiate your prescription error compensation. They will always keep you updated and strive to achieve the highest settlement award possible on your behalf.

If there are liability disputes or you cannot settle the claim, your solicitor will initiate court proceedings. Even so, you will unlikely have to go to court, as more than 95% of all claims settle without a trial.

What evidence do I need to support my medical negligence claim?

To make a wrong prescription claim, your solicitor will need to prove negligence and how you have suffered from it. The types of evidence you could use to secure compensation for a medication error include:

  • A copy of the prescription, including the details of the medication, dosage, and instructions given by the healthcare provider
  • Your complete medical records, which can show the context of the prescription, your medical history, and any known allergies
  • Copies of pharmacy records, including dispensing information and prescription labels
  • Medication packaging, such as boxes, bottles or blister packs
  • A sample of the drug for testing
  • Photographs of any visible symptoms or side effects, such as rashes or swelling
  • Statements from friends or family members who have seen how the incorrect prescription has affected you
  • Your notes detailing how you have suffered physically, mentally and psychologically
  • Any written or electronic communication between you and the healthcare provider or pharmacy regarding the prescription
  • Financial evidence, such as receipts or invoices for any out-of-pocket expenses related to the prescription error negligence

Your adviser will review any proof you have to support your injury claim and let you know if anything else is needed to secure compensation.

Can I claim compensation against the NHS?

If you were given the wrong medication or suffered from any other prescription error made by the NHS, you are entitled to claim compensation. All claims against the National Health Service are handled by NHS Resolution. This is an arm’s length body of the Department of Health and Social Care that pays compensation to patients who have suffered due to substandard care.

The health service directly funds NHS Resolution. Each NHS trust pays a yearly premium to cover them against any personal injury claims for patients. You can rest assured that if your case is successful, it will not affect the money allocated for patient care and treatment.

According to NHS Resolution, they received 1420 claims related to medication and prescription errors between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2020. Of these, 487 were settled with damages paid, for a total of £10,419,356, and 495 cases remain open. An error in administration was the most common mistake seen in these cases.

Can I make a prescription error claim on behalf of a loved one?

In certain situations, the person who suffered from a prescription error cannot claim compensation themselves. That is typically the case if they are a child under 18 or an adult who lacks mental capacity. Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, an adult is considered a protected party and unable to claim if they suffer from:

  • A brain injury or stroke
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • An intellectual disability like Down syndrome
  • A mental health disorder like schizophrenia
  • A neurodegenerative condition like Alzheimer’s

Children and protected parties need a litigation friend to represent them in a legal case. You could become a litigation friend for a loved one by applying to the court. Your solicitor can help you fill in and file the necessary documents. Before appointing you, the court will verify the following:

  • You can conduct legal proceedings fairly and competently
  • You have no conflicts of interest with the claimant

Once you are appointed as their litigation friend, you have a duty to act in the injured party’s best interests. You have several duties and responsibilities, including:

  • Sign legal documents and deal with correspondence
  • Make decisions about the case
  • Pay any fees ordered by the court
  • Instruct solicitors and take legal advice
  • Consider compensation offers from the defendant

If you secure compensation on behalf of a child, the funds will typically be kept in a court bank account and released to the child once they turn 18. You could apply for early release of the money if this is in the child’s best interest.

Fatal prescription errors

You could be entitled to compensation under the Fatal Accident Act 1976 if you lost a loved one due to a medication error. The act allows those classified as a dependent of the deceased to seek compensation for their loss, including:

  • Spouses and civil partners
  • Anyone living with them as a spouse or civil partner for at least two years
  • Children and anyone treated as a child
  • Parents and anyone treated as a parent
  • Siblings, aunts and uncles

If you were a dependent of your loved one, you could claim the following:

  • The loss of income of the deceased, including lost pensions, bonuses, investments and other sources of revenue;
  • The loss of services your loved one provided in the household, such as childcare, DIY projects and property maintenance;
  • Funeral expenses, such as the cost of a memorial service and transporting the body to the grave;
  • A bereavement award of £15,120 for the grief and suffering caused to you by the wrongful death;
  • The financial losses incurred by the deceased between the date of negligence and the date of death, such as lost earnings and private treatments.

What is the time limit to start a medication error claim?

If you want to claim prescription error compensation, you should act swiftly. Under the Limitation Act 1980, you only have three years to make a claim starting from either:

  • The day you took the medication
  • The date you became aware of the negligence

If you fail to start legal proceedings within this time frame, your case will become statute-barred, and the court will no longer consider it valid. There are a few exceptions to the limitation date:

  • For children, the time limit does not apply before their 18th birthday. A parent or legal guardian could claim for them during this period. Afterwards, they will have until their 21st birthday to start a claim themselves.
  • The time limit is suspended if the injured person lacks the mental capacity to start legal proceedings due to a brain injury or another condition such as Down syndrome. A litigation friend could claim for them at any time.
  • If you lost a loved one due to a medication error, you have three years to start a claim from the date of death.

In any case, you should speak to a solicitor as soon as possible. They will need time to gather evidence and build up your claim, and the sooner they start working on it, the better.

How much compensation can I claim for a medication error?

At the beginning of any claim, one of the most common questions is, ‘How much compensation will I receive?’. The answer is that the amount you are awarded will depend upon your specific circumstances and the severity of your illness or injury. Your solicitor will aim to achieve the highest possible settlement figure by proving the detrimental effect that your condition has had on your life.

Compensation for personal injury claims is broken down into two parts:

  • General damages – this amount compensates you for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity caused by your injury or illness.
  • Special damages – this amount compensates you for any financial losses sustained due to the medication or prescription error.

Your claim could include damages to cover the following:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • The emotional impact on your life
  • Reduced quality of life and life expectancy
  • Loss of consortium or companionship
  • Physical or mental disability
  • Loss of earnings and earning capacity
  • Medical costs for private treatment
  • Travel expenses to and from medical appointments
  • Costs of care and assistance with daily living
  • Adaptations to your home or vehicle to assist with a disability

Special damages rely on evidence such as receipts and invoices. General damages are based on the severity of the harm you suffered and are calculated according to the guidelines offered by the Judicial College. For example, you could receive:

  • £60,000 to £100,000 for an error causing damage to internal organs
  • £4,380 for mental anguish
  • £8,180 to £23,150 for moderate PTSD
  • Up to £307,000 for wrongful death cases

How long will it take to process my prescription error claim?

The length of time that it takes to process your prescription error claim will depend upon your circumstances. Times can vary depending on the complexity of individual details and whether the party responsible accepts liability for your injury or illness. If liability is not accepted, the time it takes to conclude your claim can be anything from a couple of months to more than a year. Your solicitor will seek to complete the case as soon as possible without compromising the amount you are awarded.

Other factors that may affect how long it takes to receive prescription error compensation include:

  • The nature and severity of the harm you suffered
  • Whether they have caused any long-term or permanent issues
  • The time it takes to gather the necessary evidence to support your claim
  • The estimated value of your compensation award
  • The time it takes to negotiate your settlement
  • Whether or not you have to go to court

To speed up the claims process, you should attend all your medical appointments, sign any documents your solicitor sends you promptly and work closely with them to gather evidence. If you are in a hurry, you could consider accepting an early settlement offer, but your solicitor will likely advise you against it.

If the defendant admits liability or you have strong evidence to prove their negligence, you could be eligible for an interim payment. This is part of your expected compensation that the court could award you if you have pressing financial needs.

Will I receive a No Win No Fee claim service?

The solicitors we work with will gladly offer you a no win no fee service if your case has merit. Under this agreement, there are no upfront fees, and you only pay for the legal representation if your case is successful. If you win, your lawyer receives a success fee of up to 25% of your settlement. You do not have to pay them a single penny if you lose.

If you make a no win no fee prescription error claim, you do not have to worry about the cost of litigation either. You will have After the Event (ATE) insurance to cover all your costs and disbursements if the case fails, such as:

  • Medical reports
  • Expert witness fees
  • Travel expenses
  • Court fees
  • Costs of printing and copying
  • Legal staff time
  • Barrister fees if the case goes to court
  • The defendant’s solicitor and expenses

In a no win no fee claim, you only have to pay anything if the case is successful. Your expenses will be deducted from your compensation and include:

  • The cost of the ATE premium
  • The success fee paid to your solicitor

To find out if you have a valid claim for prescription error negligence, call 0800 032 3660 to speak to a legal adviser. You could also arrange a no-obligation call back by entering your details into our online claim form.