Will insurance cover illness or injury from medication errors?
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Will insurance cover illness or injury from medication errors?

One of the most important things your doctor can ask you when prescribing medication is whether or not you have any allergies. Having adverse reactions to medication can sometimes be a minor issue, and other times it can be quite serious. When it comes to prescription medication errors, you might wonder whether or not your insurance company will cover harm suffered by allergies or doctor error.

This month, UAE Medical Insurance looks at what your options are when it comes to coverage and liability.

doctor talking to patient whilst holding a bottle of pills to represent medication error and prescription accidents

What the HAAD says about medication errors

Medication errors aren’t common, but they can be extremely serious. A recent Gulf News article found that 1,102 medication errors had been reported in Abu Dhabi in 2016. Additionally, 616 cases of adverse drug reactions had been reported to the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) in July 2017. These are reported reactions of undesired, harmful results due to taking medication, made to HAAD and something the Authority says are completely preventable.

HAAD’s Pharmacovigilance Programme, an initiative begun in 2008 to improve the quality and safety of healthcare services, identified the medication errors through its data. It found that antibiotics were found to be responsible for most of the adverse drug reactions, with anti-inflammatory drugs, painkillers, and gastrointestinal drugs also factoring in the incidents. The information helps the Authority identify areas for improvement, ultimately improving the overall patient experience for all in Abu Dhabi.

It’s important to understand that patients can also be at fault when it comes to medication issues. Those of us who don’t take the correct dosage or take medication incorrectly can also be a reason for an adverse drug reaction. The main message from HAAD is that both doctors and patients should be vigilant and careful when it comes to prescription drugs. Always let your doctor know if you are allergic to certain types of medicine, and doctors should consider patient history and skin tests before prescribing drugs.

Identifying and addressing adverse drug reactions

When it comes to an adverse drug reaction, drugs.com indicates that a reaction can begin as soon as the medicine is taken, all the way up to two weeks after you stop. There are different signs and symptoms of a reaction, ranging from mild to extreme:

  • Mild symptoms: Red, itchy, flaky, or swollen skin; flat, red areas that are covered with bumps; hives.
  • Severe symptoms: Skin that blisters or peels; vision issues; severe swelling or itching; toxic epidermal necrolysis (potentially life threatening).
  • Anaphylaxis symptoms: Throat swelling, tightness or closing; trouble breathing; body tingles; dizziness; wheezing. Anaphylaxis is sudden and life-threatening, and requires immediate medical treatment; it can be brought on by exercising after taking an antibiotic.

If you experience any mild symptoms, check with your healthcare provider before your next dose of the drug. Symptoms such as a rash, fever, sore throat or swollen glands might be temporary but it is better to be safe than sorry. Seek immediate care if you experience any of the severe symptoms, and contact emergency services if you suspect any of the anaphylaxis symptoms. Always take any of the medications you’re currently prescribed with you to the doctor or Accident & Emergency so doctors can better identify the issue.

Finally, check that any medication errors or adverse drug reactions are reported to HAAD. This can allow the Authority to better monitor drug usage and effects across the Emirates and take action if required. Healthcare providers can report cases through HAAD’s e-notification system, which can improve the quality and safety of drugs being used throughout the country.

Will my insurance cover medication errors?

For the most part, health insurance should cover any mishaps or adverse drug effects that occur through being given medication that causes an adverse reaction. With the requirement that minimum coverage laws in Dubai and Abu Dhabi require insurers to include pre-existing conditions, allergies to medication can be included under those benefits. As with standard health insurance plans covering pre-existing conditions,  it’s worth clarifying whether there are extra loadings or waiting periods attached to drug allergies if you’re unsure.

If the fault of the medication error lies with the healthcare provider, it might be that your insurance company may make the hospital or doctor liable for for the cost of treating you for your adverse drug reaction. If you’ve intentionally taken the prescribed medicine incorrectly and it requires medical treatment, some health policies may have an exclusion clause that can allow them to deny any claims for treatment costs as a result.

Being mindful of your responsibility when it comes to prescription drugs is important to ensuring that the medicine does what it’s intended to do; get you healthy again! Having appropriate health insurance can ensure that any accidents or mishaps are covered, and UAE Medical Insurance (UMI) has got you covered. When it comes to health insurance in the UAE, UMI are the experts. Their team of consultants have been providing great products and service to clients for almost 20 years.

For a free quote or some advice on how insurance can cover you for medication errors, contact the staff at UMI today!



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