Few people know enough about medicine to choose the types of drugs they need or make recommendations for prescriptions. That's why doctors exist ? they go through years of schooling and on-the-job training to be able to diagnose and treat people who are sick. So what happens when your doctor, the person you're trusting with your life ? literally ? makes a mistake at work? There is a margin of error with every job, but if that error could have been prevented, you should talk to a medical malpractice lawyer. One of the main ways doctors and pharmacists make mistakes is with medications, and unfortunately, by following protocol, most of these mistakes could be avoided.
One of the most serious medical conditions you could experience is a stroke. There are two main kinds of strokes ? ischemic and hemorrhagic. Strokes happen when there is a lack of blood to the brain, which can lead to paralysis, blindness, speech problems, and even death. Sometimes, the damage is permanent. High cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, and blood clots can all cause strokes ? and so can certain medications. This can happen in two ways. First, an interaction between two medications can lead to a stroke. As a patient, it is your responsibility to be thorough and honest about the supplements and drugs you are using, but it is a doctor's responsibility to know if there are risks of interaction. Strokes can also happen if the medication you are using isn't safe. This is not necessarily your doctor's fault, though he or she should explain to you all risks before prescribing a drug. Rather, this is an issue you should take up with the drug manufacturer. If the medication has very high risks, they should not be selling it. For example, Vioxx, a drug made by Merck & Co. has been linked to extreme risk of stroke or heart attack. Vioxx was recalled in 2004, but other drugs on the market today may be similarly unsafe.
Doctors can only make recommendations about the medications on the market based on known information, and it is the drug's manufacturer that is responsible for ensuring that the potential risks do not outweigh the health benefits. However, your doctor is responsible for following protocol regarding the administering of drugs while you're in the hospital, unless you opt to not take them after you hear about the risks. Every year, thousands of people die because they aren't given the medication they need after a surgery. That's a scary thought because when you go to a hospital you are entrusting doctors with your life.
One such drug, which has been the subject of a number of medical malpractice lawsuits, is heparin. Heparin is an anticoagulant (blood thinner) that is important for post-surgery patients to take if there's a risk of pulmonary embolism ? a blood clot traveling to the heart. Up to 15% of all patients who experience a pulmonary embolism die, so this is an extremely dangerous situation. Unfortunately, as a patient gets shuffled from one doctor to the next, they may never be given heparin, even though it is standard procedure after a number of different surgeries to take the drug. Along the same lines, patients are sometimes treated with too much heparin, which causes the blood to thin too much ? also a dangerous situation.
Wrong dosage is a major problem, not just with heparin, but with other drugs as well. Whether you are in the hospital or at home, your doctor has the responsibility to prescribe your drugs in the right dosage and to explain to you how often to take it. Even more important is your doctor's (and your pharmacist's) responsibility to give you the right drugs you need for treatment. Medications sometimes look the same or have similar names, so mistakes are easy to make. In the medical world, however, such mistakes could be the difference between life and death. If you or a loved one has dealt with any kind of medication problems, talk to a medical malpractice lawyer right away to learn about your rights.