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Could medication errors become criminal cases?

On Behalf of | Jul 19, 2022 | Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury

Medication errors account for an estimated 7,000 to 9,000 deaths annually. Will future medication errors in New Jersey be prosecuted as negligent homicide instead of medical malpractice because of a recent guilty verdict involving a nurse who made a fatal mistake?

Do prescription errors constitute negligent homicide?

Unfortunately, medication errors are prevalent, yet when they cause severe injury or death, they normally result in civil lawsuits. A guilty verdict involving a Vanderbilt University nurse who administered the wrong medication in a 2017 incident that resulted in a patient’s death may change how such cases are handled. The nurse was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide and gross neglect of an impaired adult in March 2022. Organizations like the American Nurses Association have released statements indicating that it’s unrealistic to think that mistakes will never happen and that the criminalization of medical errors is unnerving.

Nursing groups have also worked toward promoting honest reporting of mistakes instead of covering them up. However, the threat of criminal prosecution may cause some professionals to be dishonest, while others may resign from their positions and leave the field altogether. As the nursing industry is already understaffed, such moves could result in more medication errors.

Medical organizations have a duty to prevent errors

It may be rare for medication errors and other medical mistakes to lead to criminal charges, yet all clinics, hospitals, doctors, nurses, and other related personnel have a duty to keep patients as safe as possible. If you have been injured by an error involving medication, a medical procedure, or something similar, you have a right to compensation.

Medical malpractice lawsuits will continue to cover any incidents involving negligence. Always ensure that medical professionals inform you of possible risks before undergoing any treatment.