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Can you pursue a wrongful death claim from medication errors?

If you have recently lost a loved one in Tennessee due to an error in prescribed medication, there is no way to compensate for what you have lost. But Tennessee law may allow you to seek some damages to cover the financial burden, the reduced quality of life and even some financial compensation for the pain and suffering you have had to undergo. 

As Tennessee courts have explained, your case will depend on both medical malpractice and wrongful death laws. 

Medical malpractice laws

In order to bring a successful wrongful death claim after a medication error, you will need to demonstrate two things in court. First, you will need to demonstrate that there was medical malpractice involved. And secondly, you will need to demonstrate that your loved one’s death was a result of a preventable medical error. 

Medical malpractice claims in Tennessee require that the practitioner in question owed your loved one a standard of care and that he or she deviated from the standard of care. These claims also require that the resulting injury or death was a direct result of this deviation. 

For example, a doctor whom you have hired to address a particular medical issue owes you a duty of care when it comes to that issue, but the receptionist at the clinic probably does not. A nurse administering medication would also generally owe you a duty of care. If someone owing you a duty of care makes a gross error in addressing your medical issue, and it causes injury or death, you may be able to pursue a medical malpractice claim. If someone else caused the injury or death, you may need to pursue another type of civil action other than medical malpractice. 

Wrongful death laws

If your loved one has passed away as a result of a preventable medical error, you may have a wrongful death case. To be eligible, you would need to be an immediate family under Tennessee law. 

Preventable medical errors may include surgical errors, infections or contracted diseases from exposure in the hospital or clinic, misdiagnoses, poor or neglectful treatment or errantly administered or prescribed medication. You would need to demonstrate that this error directly resulted in your loved one’s death. 

If your medical practitioner is guilty of any of these offenses, and that offense resulted in the death of your loved one, you may be able to receive compensation.