Patients receiving the wrong medicine as a result of prescription errors can result in very serious illness and even death in severe cases. If you have been given the wrong prescribed medication for your ailment or injury, then you could be entitled to compensation.

Smith Partnership's medical negligence team offer expert legal guidance relating to medication and prescription error claims, helping to ensure that you get the compensation you're justly owed. Get in touch with us today to arrange a no-obligation consultation.


A prescription error refers to when a medical practitioner has failed to correctly write a prescription for a patient, resulting in the wrong medication being prescribed.

Prescribing errors while common, are also completely avoidable, and it is up to the care of the doctor to ensure they fill out the form correctly, and the pharmacy to ensure the correct medication and dose are dispensed.


There are some common examples of prescription errors that could result in you being eligible for prescription error claims:

  • Choosing the medication – this can include the doctor providing ineffective, inaccurate prescribing, or under/overprescribing
  • Writing the prescription – this includes illegibility
  • Dispensing the prescription – this includes the wrong medication given by a pharmacy such as the wrong drug entirely, the wrong dosage or the wrong frequency and duration


Statistics show that approximately 237 million medication errors occur each year in the UK through the NHS. Further research has shown that over 700 deaths occur annually as a result of ADRs (avoidable adverse drug reactions). However, when accounting for deaths which could have been contributed to by ADRs, this number rises to as many as 22,300 deaths each year.

Responsibility for ensuring that patients receive the right drugs rests with both the doctor and the pharmacist. While the process for prescribing medicines is usually operated via a computer programme, many instances still occur where the wrong drugs are dispensed through the likes of technical failure and human error.


Incorrect dispensing and prescription errors can arise in a variety of circumstances. Regardless of the best intentions of the pharmacy and GP staff, lapses in judgement, human error and negligence continue to occur.

One of the most common examples which often results in a claim for prescription error compensation include instances in which the wrong type of drug is dispensed to the patient. However, there are also situations in which the right drugs are dispensed but are received by the wrong patient.

Being prescribed a different strength or dosage than was prescribed or intended to be prescribed by the GP to treat the issue may also justify making a claim. Dosages that are too high bring along the possibility of avoidable reactions, side effects and overdosing. On the other hand, dosages that are too low could mean that the drugs are not strong enough to treat the injury or illness effectively.

Slow release drugs that are wrongly prescribed can also have serious consequences and may result in compensation being appropriate. If a patient has been prescribed a slow release drug accidentally, then this could result in their ailment or medical issue getting much worse.

Technical errors frequently cause the wrong medication to be prescribed. However, errors may also be caused by pharmacy staff themselves. This is often due to issues relating to the printing process used by the vast majority of GP practices.

Prescription errors involving children are especially serious due to the potential they have to cause adverse damage to their developing bodies and minds. This makes children particularly vulnerable to medication errors. When prescribing to children, extra consideration should be taken to determine the safest dosage for their precise age and weight.


For all personal injury claims, including those related to prescription errors, you have a three-year time limit for prescription and medication error claims.

For prescription error compensation claims specifically, this means you have three years from when you discovered there might have been a problem with your prescription.

It’s important that once you discover this, you act promptly to ensure you can bring an eligible claim against the doctor, whether this is private or NHS.


If you think you have been given the wrong medication or you suspect that there is an error with your prescription, you should first ensure you do not, or stop taking, any of the medication(s).

Next, you should get in touch with your GP or chemist for a check-up, or, depending on if you have had a severe reaction to the medication, go to hospital. You should keep any packaging or leaflets you have relating to the medication so you can show a doctor.


If you've been faced with a prescription error, you may be able to make a claim if it can be established that you suffered as a result of negligence through taking the wrong medicine.

Mounting a medical negligence claim is the first step in ensuring that you are fairly compensated for the avoidable consequences of a prescription error, and having first-rate legal expertise in your corner can go a long way in helping you achieve justice.

Most commonly, claims of this kind are subject to a three-year time limit that starts from the moment you first knew you had suffered due to a prescription error. However, different time limits apply in cases that involve children or individuals that lack the mental capacity to pursue compensation themselves. A legal expert can advise you on the best approach to suit your particular circumstances.

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If you suspect that there has been an error with your medication you should report it to the dispensing pharmacy and your GP, whether you have taken any of the medication or not. They will then fully investigate the incident and provide any treatment to you that might be required to minimise any adverse effects of the misprescribed medication. If you have been the victim of a medication error then please get in touch so we can discuss the unique circumstances of your case and advise you on the best course of action.

A recent study showed there are more than 200 million medication errors each year.

Some will have resulted in no untoward side effects, but others will have made patients very ill, costing valuable NHS resources that would otherwise have been avoided. Not to mention the avoidable impact it has on the patients themselves.