Home Health Harm From Medications: Do You Know Your Rights in Regards to the...

Harm From Medications: Do You Know Your Rights in Regards to the Medications You Take?

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When you go to your primary care physician or other medical doctor, you expect them to be experts in knowing the symptoms and treatments of your illness or disease.  Because of that implicit trust between the patient and health care provider, you probably listen to their instructions and advice without much of a second thought.

This trust extends to the belief that the medication they prescribe to you is in your best interest and that the benefits outweigh the side effects.  However, in the event the medicine may cause serious adverse effects or even death, you need to understand your rights regarding the medications that you take.

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Your Rights in Regards to Patient Care

  1. You have the right to choose your physician.

You can find a doctor that you feel comfortable and safe with.  If your insurance plan does not cover that provider, and they are accepting new patients, you can choose to pay for the treatment yourself.

  1. You have the right to confidentiality with your treatment.

You have probably heard of HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.  This law was created and specifically designed to ensure privacy standards are met to protect patients’ records and other medical information.  Your health concerns should stay between you and your provider, and any other physicians that may be involved in your treatment.

  1. You have the right to refuse treatment, including medications, even if your provider recommends it.

 If you do not feel comfortable with your physician’s medical advice, you can ask for a different course of action or seek a second opinion.  If a medication that was prescribed gave you unwanted side effects or if you are concerned about the potential side effects, you have the right to ask for a comparable replacement or forgo the medication altogether.

  1. You have the right to be informed about the risks and potential benefits of potential treatment plans, including medications.

 The medications that your doctor prescribes to you should be FDA approved, but even if they are, there is the possibility that there may be side effects that you should be aware of.


Everyone is familiar with the two to three pages of information you receive when you get your prescription filled at a pharmacy.  This verbose information contains more than you ever needed to know about the medicine you are taking, but part of that information includes the potential side effects and risks.

You should not have to learn about those risks on your own; your doctor should have informed you of the potential side effects and adverse reactions, and you should both have decided together whether the benefits outweigh the risks or not.

  1. You have the right to seek counsel if a medication prescribed causes serious injury or even death of a loved one.

The side effects to many medications can be significant.  If those side effects are not disclosed to the patient or carefully considered, they may result in serious damages or a terminal condition.  Additionally, if there is a mistake in the course of writing or filling a prescription and those same serious conditions occur, you have the foundation of a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Expert medical malpractice attorneys can be found online, like Bob Goldwater, and research into those lawyers will help you find one that you feel comfortable with should you decide to pursue a medical malpractice case.

Providers Have Legal Duties Pertaining to Prescription Drugs

Doctors are given the right to prescribe medications as they see fit when they treat a patient, but that right comes with strict legal duties.  Being lenient with any of these duties can result in serious consequences to the patient, and sometimes even the patient’s death.

Before giving you your prescription, your health care provider has a legal duty to assess your other prescriptions and determine if there is a conflict between any of them that could result in harm to you.  He or she also must assess the risks of the medication and determine if the benefits of the medicine outweigh the side effects and if your current health condition can tolerate them.  Your provider also legally must assess and review the potential side effects of the intended medication.

Aa Well as Providers, Pharmacies Have Legal Duties Too

Dropping your prescription off at a pharmacy is not as cut and dried as “you bring it, they fill it.”  Pharmacists must be able to correctly decipher the physician’s prescription, which sometimes can be difficult, resulting in them phone for clarification.

Once the prescription is understood and compared to the proper standards of government guidelines on how to correctly write prescriptions for controlled substances or other particular requirements, they then must carefully fill the proper medication with the correct dosage.

Neglect in any of These Legal Duties Can Be Costly

If your health care provider or pharmacy neglects to carefully consider each of their legal responsibilities, the results could be dangerous or even tragic.  If a pharmacist were to adjust the dosage from .5 to 5 on a prescription or a provider to transpose a dosage amount and the patient trusted in both of them to provide the recommended medication, they would take it as directed and then potentially experience serious consequences.

If this has happened to you or a loved one, you have the right to seek compensation for your illness or injuries.  To prove medical malpractice regarding medications you, or your attorney, must prove that you took the medication strictly as directed.

In a failure-to-warn claim, you must show that your doctor failed to warn you about the potential risks in taking the medication.  In a dispensing error claim, you must prove that the medication dispensed was different than what was prescribed by your doctor.  You must also be able to provide expert testimony showing a causal link between the error in medication and your illness or injury.

Consult with a medical malpractice attorney if you feel that you or a loved one have been injured or harmed due to a medication error.

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