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Ignored allergies can lead to preventable prescription errors

People usually expect their doctor to behave as an expert should. Unfortunately, an unqualified belief that a doctor is both knowledgeable about the treatment they recommend and a patient’s history could lead to someone suffering a preventable medical emergency.

All too often, doctors rush through their appointments with patients and may fail to properly check their records. Given that the average general practice doctor carries a caseload that includes more than 1,800 individual patients, the chances are good that a doctor may not recall details about someone’s medical history without properly refreshing their memory. They could, therefore, easily overlook a known allergy when prescribing a medication with dire consequences for the patient.

Patients may not know the relationship between drugs

There are so many different types of medications on the market that the average patient has no way of remembering them all. Many people will recall a drug’s name when they have had an allergic reaction to it. However, they very likely will not know the name of every generic drug that uses the same formulation and other drugs in the same family.

For example, many people have received penicillin at some point in their lives to treat an infection. Penicillin is a potent antibiotic, but it is also a common allergy. Many Americans have severe reactions to penicillin that could include difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, whole-body rashes and more. The doctor could make a major mistake by prescribing them a regimen of erythromycin.

Both of these antibiotics are from the same family and tend to trigger allergic reactions in people who are allergic to the other drug. A physician is the one who should know that and recognize that they should not recommend a patient any drug in the same family as one that has caused a prior allergic reaction.

The failure to properly review a patient’s chart and/or discuss prior allergic reactions with them during the prescribing process could directly lead to someone having a major medical event that could cost them thousands and endanger their life. Ultimately, holding physicians accountable for prescription drug errors can both improve that physician’s practices and compensate the person impacted by their negligence.