Wrongful Death Lawyer
In this blog, I want to discuss a specific scenario involving dangerous medications that are prescribed by a physician or nurse practitioner and the difficulties faced by patients who suffer injury after using such medications in the recommended dosage. Mishkind Kulwicki Law Co., L.P.A. can help you answer your medical malpractice questions, so feel free to reach out if this blog leaves you with questions.
First some background about the types of dangers associated with medications and how harm caused by the medications are resolved by the legal system. First, there are drugs that have unknown risks. Too often, drugs hit the market with premature FDA approval or become widely used before explicit approval for a particular use in what it called “off-label use.” Over time, adverse side effects associated with these drugs come to the surface, proving these drugs to be more dangerous than originally believed. In these cases, when patients who use these medications in a manner consistent with their doctor’s prescription (right dose, duration and frequency) and suffer serious injury or death, compensation for the harm suffered is generally a matter for a product liability lawsuit. These cases often result in multi-district litigation led by several large law firms on both sides of the dispute.
Occasionally, discovery in those cases reveals that the pharmaceutical company that manufactured the drug knew about the risks associated with the drug but hid those risks or under-reported them during the FDA approval process. In those instances, with the public and their physicians in the dark about the true dangers of the drugs they are using, the lawsuit is brought against the manufacturer, but punitive damages may be attainable in addition to regular compensatory damages.
In other cases, the risks of a particular drug are known and published. The dangers may be made known to the public, their doctors and pharmacists through a package insert (instructional information accompanying the medication and available online or in a variety of online sources), studies contained in medical journals and information distributed by pharmaceutical representatives (“drug reps”).
The known dangers associated with a particular medication may involve dangerous side effects and risks, or harmful interactions with other drugs or certain medical conditions (e.g., kidney failure or impaired liver function). Once these dangers are disclosed by the pharmaceutical companies, the responsibility shifts to doctors and nurse practitioners to use these medicines in a careful manner, including by using the proper dose, heeding contraindications to use and warning the patient about side effects and alternatives. If a doctor or nurse fails to properly advise his/her patient or prescribes a medication in a haphazard or dangerous way, they can be held liable for medical negligence or medical malpractice (these terms are used interchangeably).
In addition to holding the prescribing doctor or CNP liable, in some instances, the pharmacy or hospital where the prescription was filled may be held liable for failing to alert a consumer about dangerous drug interactions.