Medication errors happen all the time, and some are more excusable than others (though none are truly excusable). Some of these medication errors are of commission, where an unnecessary or dangerous medication is given. Some are of omission, where a needed medication is not given. There are a variety of circumstances that lead to both of these very important issues.
As devastating as any medication error can be, some are particularly inexcusable. A story out of Queensbury, New York is particularly appalling. A 29 year old male nurse, in a hurry to leave early, didn’t administer important painkillers to his patients. Instead, he asked another nurse to dispose of them and falsified the reports. The patients who should have received the painkillers were left to suffer without their medicine.
There are a number of ways hospitals might try to hide medication errors from their patients in order to avoid liability. These methods include:
- Falsifying charts, as is indicated in this case
- Limiting patient and family member access to charts so that blanks and omissions aren’t noted
- Making verbal rather than written orders, so that if the orders aren’t carried out there is no documentation
- Adding medication orders after the fact to cover when unnecessary medications have been administered to the wrong patient
Most doctors and hospitals will admit to their errors, because failing to do so puts a patient at risk. But there are bad apples everywhere, and it only takes one bad nurse and a lack of safety protocols for something terrible to happen. Some nurses, worried they will lose their job, will do anything to cover up their error, even if it puts patients at grave risk of harm.
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed by a medication error or unknown cause that you suspect might have resulted from malpractice, it is important that you contact an experienced lawyer. Only an experienced lawyer will know how to ensure a proper investigation to determine just what went wrong to put your loved one at risk.