Compensation for being Prescribed the Wrong Medicine by a Doctor

Is it true that it is difficult to claim compensation for being prescribed the wrong medicine by a doctor?

The process to establish that you are eligible to claim compensation for being prescribed the wrong medicine by a doctor is difficult – rather than the procedure for making a claim – because there are so many reasons why you might not be able to claim compensation for a prescription mistake by a doctor.

The primary consideration in a claim for a doctors prescription error is that you must have sustained some form of injury or the deterioration of an existing condition in order to make a claim justifiable. Furthermore, if you have not sustained any significant injury or deterioration, it will not be worth your while to pursue compensation for being prescribed the wrong medicine by a doctor.

This would raise the question that, if you were feeling unwell by taking the medicine prescribed for you by a doctor, why did you continue to take it? Only if you suffered a rapid deterioration of your health due to an ‘adverse effect’ would it be likely that a claim for a doctors prescription error would be successful; and even then, it may have to be shown that the ‘adverse effect’ you suffered was an avoidable reaction to the medicine prescribed by your doctor, and that he or she should have been aware of the potential for an allergic reaction or conflict with existing medicines.

Another area which may complicate the process to claim compensation for being prescribed the wrong medicine by a doctor is if you failed to communicate the full range of symptoms you were suffering when the doctor made his diagnosis and prescribed the medicine. If you have contributed to your injury by your own lack of care, you might not be disqualified from making a claim for a doctors prescription error, but how much compensation for a prescription mistake by a doctor you are entitled to may be reduced to reflect your contributory negligence.

Your first course of action should therefore be to speak with a solicitor, explain the circumstances in which you first went to visit the doctor and what diagnosis was made. If you know what medicine you should have been prescribed, and still have the box or packet which was dispensed to you when the incorrect medicine was prescribed for you, this will make the solicitor´s task of establishing negligence in support of your claim for a doctors prescription error less complicated – but do not worry if you have not, as this information can be extracted from your medical history.

The solicitor will listen as you describe what ‘adverse effect’ you suffered, what treatment you underwent for the adverse effect and what impact your illness or deterioration of your existing condition had on your quality of life. It may not be possible in an initial telephone conversation for a solicitor to determine whether you have a claim for compensation for a prescription mistake by a doctor which is worth your while to pursue but, with a better understanding of your situation, the solicitor will be able to provide you with practical advice relevant to your personal circumstances.

Thereafter, your solicitor will make preliminary enquiries with the assistance of an independent medical expert to determine if you are eligible to claim compensation for being prescribed the wrong medicine by a doctor.

Although you may still be suffering from the consequences of being prescribed the wrong medicine by your doctor, it would be advisable to speak with a solicitor at the first practical opportunity.



This is an Information site only – if you feel you have a potential claim, you should discuss your situation with a solicitor registered with the Law Society of Ireland.