Prescriptions written by residents may be suspect

Residents are medical school graduates who typically participate in graduate medical programs and train in specialized fields of medicine. It may be said they are both student and healthcare provider. Although they are not yet board eligible or board-certified physicians, they are permitted to write prescriptions, which can be filled at any pharmacy. Kentucky patients naturally have reason to rely on these prescriptions the same as they would from any other doctor.

This makes a presentation given at the American Academy of Pediatrics all the more disturbing. The AAP report revealed that residents of all levels made errors when writing pediatric prescriptions despite the fact they were expected to be able to write them correctly from the first day of their residency. Apparently, the primary issue involved the residents' collective unfamiliarity with electronic prescription systems.

The nature and types of errors were such that could potentially harm the young patients. For instance, 98 percent of the prescriptions examined for the trial group of a weight-based medication failed to indicate either the patient's actual weight or the standardized weight-based dosage. Other common errors included not specifying a specific reason for taking the prescribed medication and failing to specify for how long the medication should be taken.

Doctor errors and mistakes as well as treatment from medical entities that does not adhere to minimum standards of average care may be indicative of a potential medical malpractice claim. Part of the difficulty with such a claim is that not only must the medical error be proved but it also must be shown that the patient would not have suffered harm but for the error. A medical malpractice lawyer may help determine if liability exists.

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