When Are Medication Errors Considered Iowa Medical Malpractice?

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Posted by Farl Greene

Every year, Iowans are injured or even killed by Iowa doctors prescribing the wrong medication.  There’s a variety of ways a doctor can get your medication wrong:

  • They can give you too much medication; or not enough.
  • They prescribe a medication that interferes with other medications you are taking.
  • They prescribe something that you may be allergic to, or that causes harm in some way.

But was this mistake medical malpractice?

Iowa Medical Malpractice and Medication Errors: Why It’s So Difficult to Prove

It is very difficult to prove malpractice in a wrong medication case. Medication can be especially tricky because of the way it is dispensed.  Here’s an example to explain more clearly:

Your doctor prescribes a medication, then sends it off to a pharmacy to be filled.  A pharmacy tech fills the medication and a pharmacist double-checks that it’s correct.  You visit the pharmacy and pick up the medication.  You take the medication, and it causes permanent injury.

In this case, an attorney would need to determine who caused the negligence that led to your injury.   Your doctor is only liable if they prescribed the wrong medication.  If your doctor prescribed the correct medication, but the pharmacist gave you the wrong medication, you would sue the pharmacist.

It can also be difficult to prove negligence in a medication case unless it caused serious and irreparable harm – like death.  Most medications are known to have side effects, and these side effects can be dangerous.  Medicine is not an exact science, and what works for someone else may be very harmful for you.  You may suffer an injury without the doctor committing malpractice.  The only way your malpractice claim can succeed is if your attorney is able to prove negligence.

Proving an Iowa Medical Doctor Committed Medical Malpractice

A medical malpractice attorney cannot say that negligence was committed.  Only another doctor can say that. Because of this, medical experts are required for malpractice cases.  An expert will be hired by your attorney to review your medical records.  They will be looking to see if your doctor fell below the standard of care.

The standard of care is a baseline used to measure whether an average doctor would have prescribed the same medication, or the same amount of medication, that your doctor did.  If the answer to that is no, then your lawyer can proceed with your case.

Medical malpractice lawsuits are very expensive to bring in Iowa, and an experienced attorney will need to weigh the benefits of bringing a lawsuit.  If you haven’t suffered serious and permanent harm from taking the wrong medication or the wrong dosage, then it’s unlikely a medical malpractice lawsuit would put any money in your pocket.

To learn more, you can visit our website at and download your free copy of the Law Guide to Iowa Medical Malpractice Claims.

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