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The Four Classifications of Adverse Drug Events

Colburn Law

Imagine being prescribed a new medication and entrusting that it’s safe and effective, only to suffer harmful complications later on. Navigating the complex world of healthcare and medication safety can be challenging, especially when faced with an adverse drug event.

An adverse drug event is an injury resulting from medical intervention related to a drug. There are four main types of adverse drug events: potential, non-preventable, ameliorable, and preventable.

#1: Potential

Potential adverse drug events occur when a healthcare professional identifies a medication mistake and rectifies it before the medical reaches the patient, thereby causing no harm. For example, a nurse may notice that the medication listed on a patient’s chart doesn’t match their diagnosed condition. The nurse verifies, finds an error, and corrects it before the patient receives the medication.

#2: Non-Preventable

Sometimes, even when everything is done right in prescribing and administering a drug, a patient might still experience undesirable reactions. This kind of event is a non-preventable adverse drug event. It’s characterized by unexpected side effects, such as discomfort or nausea, even when healthcare professionals have followed all recommended guidelines.

#3: Ameliorable

In an ameliorable adverse drug event, the individual encounters harm after consuming the drug. The harm might not be life-threatening but remains significant. For example, a patient might have taken a medication and developed a bothersome rash. This type of adverse drug event is characterized by the fact that, while the harm was not entirely avoidable, it could have been lessened or mitigated with different actions or interventions.

#4: Preventable

The most concerning adverse drug event is a preventable one. In this scenario, due to oversight or negligence, a patient may be subjected to severe, sometimes life-threatening side effects from a medication. 

This event is considered preventable because, upon review, it becomes evident that the harm could have been avoided with appropriate clinical care. Situations like prescribing too much of a medication or dangerous drug interactions, often stemming from professional oversight, fall under this classification.

What to do if you are affected by an adverse drug event

What to Do If You Are Affected by an Adverse Drug Event

Experiencing an adverse drug event, especially a preventable one, can be traumatic and potentially life-altering. Beyond the immediate health implications, these incidents often bring along emotional distress and financial burdens.

If you have been affected by a preventable adverse drug event, you have legal avenues available to you. Depending on the cause of the event, you may be entitled to financial compensation by filing a medical malpractice claim. In your lawsuit, you could recover a settlement to help pay for additional medical care, lost earnings, and other damages related to a medical professional’s error.

In these situations, it is important to take steps to protect yourself and your future claim:

  • Seek immediate medical care to treat any complications related to the adverse drug event.
  • Save all documents and pieces of evidence related to the event, including your medical records and the names of the medical professionals who treated you.
  • Follow your doctor’s treatment plan and continue to carefully document your medical bills and treatment needs.
  • Consult a Seattle medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your options and plan your next steps.

A personal injury attorney in Seattle will have the skills and experience necessary to guide you through the legal process and help you hold the at-fault provider accountable. Schedule a free consultation as soon as possible to discuss your path to fair compensation.