It may come as a surprise, but every day people receive the wrong medications. The errors usually occur when the doctor prescribes the wrong medication, the pharmacy fills the prescription with the incorrect medication, or the wrong dosage of the correct prescription is dispensed. Often, errors result from a flawed system with inadequate backup to detect mistakes.
The National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention defines a medication error as, “any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient, or consumer. Such events may be related to professional practice, health care products, procedures, and systems, including prescribing, order communication, product labeling, packaging, and nomenclature, compounding, dispensing, distribution, administration, education, monitoring, and use.” When a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist acts negligently, it can lead to further health complications, even death. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, each year in the United States alone, 7,000 to 9,000 people die due to a medication error. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of other patients experience a harmful reaction or other complications related to a medication.
In many cases, mistakes are made by well-trained healthcare professionals. For example, many medications have look-alike spelling, and it is very easy for the pharmacist to grab the wrong one off the shelf by mistake.
Medication Error Risk Factors
- High call volume and distractions
- Inexperienced staff
- Lack of policy enforcement
- Medically complex patients
- Medications requiring calculations
- Environmental factors
- Poor communication
- Shift work
- Workplace culture
- Verbal orders
- Interpersonal factors such as external stress
Today every prescription order is done electronically, but there is still room for error.
The Most Common System Failures
- Inaccurate order transcription
- Drug knowledge dissemination
- Failing to obtain allergy history
- Incomplete order checking
- Mistakes the tracking of the medication orders
- Poor professional communication
- Unavailability or inaccurate patient information
Preventing Medication Errors
- Tell your doctor about any allergies, other medications you are taking, and pre-existing conditions
- Confirm dosage with your doctor
- Make sure the correct name is on the bag
- Immediately open the bag at the counter, check the label, and verify it is the correct medication, with your name
- Talk to the pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns
- Have a list of your meds and a copy of new prescriptions so you have them in hand when you talk to the pharmacist
Always remember to ask your doctor about medication side effects. If you have been injured after a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist failed to take proper precautions when prescribing, administering, or dispensing medication, you have the right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
At Edelman, Krasin, & Jaye, PLLC, we offer more than 60 years of combined experience and have convenient office locations in Long Island, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, and we know how to approach these cases to get the results you need. If you or your loved ones are the victims of a medical error, we hold health care staff responsible for errors. Call us at 800-469-7429 to set up a free initial consultation. You can also contact us using our online form and on our Live Chat application on our website to have your questions answered at any time.