One thing that most people here in Connecticut have encountered at one point or another is unclear handwriting. When one thinks of the effects of unclear handwriting, one probably thinks of minor inconveniences. One probably doesn’t think of serious injury or death. However, these things can be the effects of unclear handwriting when it occurs in the context of the writing of prescriptions. This is because unclear handwriting on prescriptions can sometimes lead to medication errors. No patient should have to be subjected to a medication error because a medical professional failed to exercise proper care when writing a prescription. Thus, one hopes that medical professionals make sure to write in a clear manner when it comes to prescriptions.
Recently, in another state, a jury reached its decision in a case involving unclear handwriting, a medication error and a patient’s death.
The case involved a doctor in Texas who wrote a prescription for a female dialysis patient while the patient was receiving care at a hospital. The prescription was for potassium. After first writing the prescription at a dose of 10 millimoles, the doctor decided to change the dose of the prescription to 20 millimoles.
In relation to this decision to change the dosage, the doctor wrote the number 2 over the number 1 in the prescription. The patient’s family alleged that this action by the doctor led to the prescription being misread and the patient being given potassium at a dose of 120 millimoles. According to the patient’s family, this resulted in the patient suffering a fatal overdose.
A lawsuit was brought against the doctor by the patient’s family in relation to these claims. As we mentioned above, the jury in this case recently reached its verdict. The jury ruled that the doctor was 10 percent responsible for the patient’s death and it awarded the patient’s family a monetary judgment.
Source: The San Antonio Express-News, “Poor penmanship costs doctor $380,000,” Craig Kapitan, Oct. 3, 2013