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Alabama Law About Medication Errors

October 11, 2022 Personal Injury

Medication errors happen more frequently than you would suspect.  According to one study, up to 9,000 people per year die in America due to a medication mistake. Hundreds of thousands of people suffer a preventable medical complication or illness as a result of these errors.

Medication errors cause complications or death either because the patient received the wrong medication, or, more frequently, because the patient did not receive the correct medication.  In many instances, the absence of an important medication is what leads to death or a serious medical complication.

These costly mistakes can happen due to negligence by a hospital, a nursing home, a doctor, or a pharmacy.

What Does Alabama Law Say About Medication Errors?

If a loved one has died due to a medication mistake or you have suffered a serious complication because of such a mistake, you may have the right to bring a claim against the responsible party to seek financial compensation.

Alabama has special medical malpractice laws that apply to any claim against a healthcare provider. These laws are called the Alabama Medical Liability Act (AMLA).

Under the AMLA, the plaintiff must show that:

(1) the healthcare provider breached the standard of care and;

(2) that the breach of the standard of care caused a serious complication or death.

In most medical malpractice cases, including those involving a medication mistake, the plaintiff must prove through expert testimony that there was a breach of the standard of care and that a serious complication or death resulted.

How Do You Prove a Medication Mistake Occurred?

Usually the first step is obtaining the medical records.  Healthcare providers are required to keep accurate records of treatment provided, tests performed, and medications that were prescribed and administered.  In many instances, the medication mistake can be revealed after a thorough review of the records.

In other instances, you can gather proof through other means.  For example, if a pharmacy puts the wrong pills in a bottle, you can take pictures of the pills and/or the pill bottle.  If the pills do not match the description of the pills on the bottle, it is likely a medication error has occurred.

What Type of Compensation is Possible for a Medication Mistake?

In any claim against a healthcare provider, if you win your case, you are entitled to compensation. The type of compensation depends on whether the patient was killed due to the mistake or survived and had serious complications.

In Alabama, if the patient died, then the legal remedy for the deceased’s heirs is called a wrongful death claim.  In a wrongful death claim in Alabama, the sole measure of compensation for the heirs is punitive damages.  You can read more about the specifics of wrongful death claims and punitive damages by reading our article Everything to Know About Wrongful Death in Alabama.

If the patient survived, but had serious complications, then he or she is entitled to compensatory damages. To learn more about the available compensatory damages, read our article Damages in Alabama Personal Injury Claims.

Let Us Get to Work for You and Your Family

If you or a loved one has suffered harm because of a medication mistake, let our attorneys review your case.  There is no charge for our firm to review the case and we only get paid if we win.  We have experience handling these cases and have a strong track record of success.