Top 10 Medication Errors – Getting the Wrong Dosage

The number of people who are made sick each year by medication errors is staggering. There is no mandatory reporting system in place for incidents when a doctor prescribed the wrong drug or a pharmacist gave the wrong medication. Many practitioners do not report these events, as they fear retribution. According to AARP, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported that about 1.3 million people get sick after taking medications every year, indicating medication errors are more common than most people realize.

Medication Errors Can Occur Due to Misread or Miswritten Prescriptions

One of the top 10 medication errors that occurs is getting the wrong dosage. This mistake can either be tied to the doctor or the pharmacist.

Medical Abbreviations Can Get Misinterpreted

If a doctor’s handwriting is not clear, a patient might be given the wrong amount of medication. While pharmacists are trained to read prescriptions despite the way they are written, they may need to call the doctor who wrote it to verify the medication and dosage if a prescription is too illegible. Guessing prescriptions is not only ill-advised, but it can also put patients at risk of developing other symptoms and illnesses or even dying.

Another way that prescriptions can be misinterpreted is with the use of shorthand. Using abbreviations or shorthand is common practice in the medical field, but it can also lead to errors if the reader is unfamiliar with the shorthand or if the prescriber accidentally writes the wrong abbreviation. For example, “q.d.” is a medical abbreviation that means “once a day” or “daily,” while “q.d.s” means “four times a day.” If an order using these abbreviations is misinterpreted, the patient could receive four times more medication than they should.

Pharmacists Have to Be Careful When Processing Prescriptions

Medication errors can also occur when pharmacists process prescriptions. Typos can be innocent mistakes when texting or sending an email but not when inputting medical prescriptions.

Inadvertently shifting a decimal point in either direction or mistaking a comma for a decimal point can lead to a prescription overdose of anywhere between 10 and 1,000 times. An overdose can cause severe injury or death if not treated in time, especially if the patient took opiate pills.

You Can Take Steps to Avoid Getting the Wrong Dosage

You can take proactive measures to avoid getting the wrong amount of medicine by:

  • Discussing your medicine with your doctor: Before leaving an appointment with your doctor, have a brief discussion about the type of medicine they prescribed to you, especially if you are starting a new prescription. This can help you understand what you are taking and how much you should take based on your health condition.
  • Confirm the prescription with the pharmacist: When submitting a new prescription, always confirm that they have the same prescription information you discussed with your doctor, including the dosage. This can help prevent errors before they officially process the prescription.
  • Confirm the prescription again when you pick up the medicine: When picking up the prescription, check the label on the bottle to make sure the medication and dosage information is correct. If you suspect the medicine is too much or too little, you can also ask a pharmacist to confirm whether the medication is correct. The pharmacist can also answer other questions you have about the medicine.
  • Report symptoms to your doctor: If you start developing negative symptoms, immediately report this to your doctor and bring in the medicine that you believe has caused the symptoms. Your doctor can then confirm whether the medicine is correct in dosage and type.

Let a Medical Malpractice Lawyer from Distasio Law Firm Review Your Case

If you developed an injury or illness because of one of the top 10 medical errors—getting the wrong dosage for a prescription—you might be eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Have our team at Distasio Law Firm review your case and determine whether you might be entitled to receive compensation from the medical professionals and/or facility responsible for your damages. We can help you build your case by collecting evidence and getting testimony from medical experts who can analyze the severity of the error involved in your injury or illness.

Call (813) 259-0022 today for a free consultation and let us know what challenges you have faced since discovering the medical error. We want to help you fight for justice.


Our main office is here in Downtown Tampa, Florida in the Channelside neighborhood. Office in Wesley Chapel and Largo are available by appointment only.

Distasio Law Firm