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Compensation for Adverse Reactions

I was prescribed a new medication and had severe adverse reactions to the pills. Is it possible to claim compensation for pain and suffering, and should I claim against the doctor or the drug company?

Prescription drugs are subject to rigorous tests before being accepted for use on patients, and are required to undergo human trials before they can be prescribed by doctors. Part of the trial will highlight any adverse reactions to the medication, and these will be detailed on the accompanying documentation. While most patients will suffer no ill effects from the treatment, there may be unpleasant side effects with some individuals. Vomiting, diarrhoea, and stomach pain are common adverse reactions to a wide range of medications, and the doctor should be informed if there are any adverse reactions to a new medication in order to enable them to make a change to your medication.

In some cases, adverse reactions to medication can be far more severe, causing serious disability, pain, suffering and even death. Allergic reactions to medication are serious, although in many cases they cannot be foreseen by a doctor. According to the Clinical Indemnity Scheme, between 2004 and 2010, a total of 124 compensation claims were made as a result of medication errors, of which a third were due to severe allergic reactions. Many claims for compensation due to allergic reactions came from drugs containing penicillin when there was a known allergy to the drug. If you had advised the doctor of an allergy to a class of drug, or the doctor failed to check if you had any allergies before prescribing treatments, it can be considered as medical negligence and a failure in the doctor´s duty of care to you as a patient. Compensation can then be claimed for the error and the resultant pain and suffering caused.

In cases where different medications interact and cause illness or damage the body, and these have been overlooked by a doctor who was aware of the medication you were already taking, a panel of medical experts assembled by your solicitor would likely class this as medical negligence. Each medication has contraindications which prevent its use with certain other classes of drug and, in such cases, a claim for compensation for adverse reactions to medication can be pursued. It should be noted that, in order to make a successful adverse reactions compensation claim, you must have suffered adverse reactions which are over and above the standard side effects indicated by the documentation accompanying the medication, and you should have stopped taking the medication and sought medical advice when adverse reactions were first noticed.

Continuing to take medication which makes you ill could be seen by the defence as contributory negligence, and would see any adverse reactions compensation payment reduced, or may even result in an unsuccessful claim.

Litigation against a pharmaceutical company may be appropriate, or it may be deemed to be the doctor who was at fault – or even the pharmacist who dispensed the medication to you. Claims for adverse reactions compensation can become highly complex when establishing who are the negligent parties, and to what extent each is liable for your injuries. As such, seeking the advice of a medical negligence solicitor is vital, and will almost certainly increase the chance of making a successful claim and receiving the full entitlement to compensation.