Is it possible to claim compensation for being given the wrong medicine and, if so, do I make them against the pharmacist or my doctor?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

Answer:

Before considering against whom a claim for compensation for being given the wrong medicine should be made, it has to first be established that you have suffered an injury or the deterioration of an existing condition because a pharmacist´s or doctor´s error and that you did not contribute to that injury or deterioration by your own lack of care.

Doctors and pharmacists have a responsibility to prescribe and dispense the correct medication for a patient, but their negligence alone in providing you with the wrong medicine is not sufficient grounds to claim compensation for being given the wrong medicine – especially if you carried on taking the medicine while it was making you ill.

You will be considered to have contributed to your illness or the deterioration of your existing condition if it can shown that any “reasonable” person would have noticed that the medication they had been given was wrong, but they continued to take it. Your contributory negligence may not exclude you from making a claim for compensation for being given the wrong medicine, but how much compensation you receive will be reduced to reflect your own lack of care.

If an injury or the deterioration of an existing condition happened quickly after being provided with the wrong medicine, it is more likely that a wrong medicine compensation claim will be successful; however you will need a solicitor to pursue compensation for being given the wrong medicine as a claim of this nature is classified as a case of medical negligence by the Injuries Board Ireland and therefore not one they will assess for damages.

Your solicitor will conduct an investigation into how you were given the wrong medicine and establish whether your pharmacist or your doctor were responsible for an injury by their lack of care and against whom a compensation claim for being given the wrong medicine should be made. Once it is determined which party was negligent, your solicitor will send a Letter of Claim informing them that you are claiming compensation for being given the wrong medicine and providing details of the evidence that has been accumulated against him or her.

If you solicitor has constructed a sufficiently solid wrong medicine compensation claim, it is probable that an offer of settlement will be forthcoming and your solicitor will work out how much compensation for being given the wrong medicine you are entitled to receive. If there is no admission of liability, or it cannot be agreed how much compensation for being given the wrong medicine you should receive, your case may have to be resolved in court.

Inasmuch as a court hearing is an unlikely scenario, it is recommended that you speak with an experienced medical negligence solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity to establish that you have a compensation claim for being given the wrong medicine which is worth your while to pursue and, if so, to begin an investigation into who was responsible for providing you with the wrong medicine.