Compensation Claim for Being Given the Wrong Medicine By a Nurse

Can I make a compensation claim for being given the wrong medicine by a nurse in hospital?

A compensation claim for being given the wrong medicine by a nurse can be made provided that it can be established and proven there was a failure in a duty of care and the medication error resulted from the negligence of a member of the hospital staff.

However, it will only be possible to make a claim for compensation for being given the wrong medication by a nurse if your health suffered as a direct result. This could be side effects from the medication you received or a deterioration in your health as a result of the delay in receiving the correct medication. If you have come to no harm as a result of the error, you will not be entitled to receive compensation.

When a patient is administered incorrect medication by a nurse, it is one of the clearest cases of medical negligence and represents a serious failure in a duty of care. The nurse who administered the medicine should have checked to make sure that it was intended for you by cross checking the prescription with your medical chart. This would be a standard check to ensure that a mistake was not made, but the nurse may not be to blame if he or she had not been instructed to do so.

While it is possible that the nurse gave you another patients medication, the mistake may have been made by another member of the hospital staff. An error could have been made by a doctor when writing the prescription - such as choosing the wrong drugs, failing to write out the prescription clearly or confusing two similarly named medications. The hospital pharmacist may have accidentally dispensed the wrong medication, or an error could have been made by the hospital’s administrative staff.

A mistake may have been made at any point from the diagnosis of your medical condition to the administration of medication and, until the person or persons responsible for that error are identified, it is not possible to make a claim for incorrect medication given in hospital as there will be no third party against whom a compensation claim for being given the wrong medicine by a nurse can be made.

The first step to take is to write a letter of complaint to the HSE - or the hospital manager if the error occurred while receiving private medical care — detailing the mistake that was made and the consequences. Once the letter of complaint is received an internal investigation will be conducted to establish how the error was allowed to occur.

You should also speak with a medical negligence solicitor to find out if it is likely to be worth your while making a claim for being given another patients medicine or an incorrect prescription. While it may be possible to make a claim for incorrect medication given in hospital, if you do not stand to recover a reasonable amount of compensation it may not actually be worth your while to take legal action. Once the negligent third party has been identified and medical negligence has been confirmed, it will be possible to start the claim.