There are certain instances that can be considered medical malpractice when a doctor prescribes a patient experimental medication. However, just because a doctor prescribes someone experimental medication, it does not mean it is medical malpractice. For it to be considered medical malpractice, the doctor will have had to give the patient less than standard treatment which would lead to the patient becoming injured.
Informed Consent and the Standard of Treatment
A doctor’s treatment of their patient is considered less than standard if their treatment is less than a reasonable doctor in the same field would provide a patient in the same situation. In cases of experimental medications, the standard level of treatment is called informed consent. Informed consent is the idea that a doctor must inform the patient that the medication is experimental, as well as informing the patient knowledgeably about the known risks of the drug. The patient is always able to decline receiving the medication. If the patient decides to go through with trying an experimental medication, it is recommended for the doctor to have them sign a consent form.
When does experimental medication result in malpractice?
The doctor could be held responsible for medical malpractice is the doctor does not tell the patient of the known risks of the experimental medication; the doctor does not do sufficient research prior to prescribing the medication to the patient; or if the patient is injured because of the experimental medication. However, even in situations where the doctor has fully researched the drug, informed the patient of all of the known risks, and receives a signed consent form from the patient, the doctor could still be held liable for any consequences of the experimental medication. For example, if a patient is taking experimental medications, the doctor will be required to monitor them closely for any chance of harmful side effects. If a doctor does not diagnose or ignores dangerous side effects that come from using the medication, it could be considered malpractice.
Experimental Medication Intended Use
It can be considered medical malpractice is a doctor chooses to prescribe experimental medications for an injury or illness for which the medication was not created. It would also be considered malpractice should the doctor prescribe an experimental drug for longer than necessary or allowed. If there was an improperly diagnosed condition that was prescribed an experimental medication, it could be considered medical malpractice if harm comes to the patient.
If you or a loved one have been harmed by an experimental medication, you should discuss your case with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. A medical malpractice lawyer will be able to sort through your case to determine if there is enough evidence for a medical malpractice case. A medical malpractice attorney trusts will be able to help file a medical malpractice lawsuit, especially as these cases tend to quickly become complicated. If you believe there was an issue with the medication manufacturer or marketer, you should contact a product liability attorney. The doctor may not have been acting inappropriately, however, the creator of the drug could have acted improperly.