Advances in medicine over the last century have given the populace ways to relieve chronic pain, cure diseases, and extend lives. The benefits of medications range from alleviating cold symptoms to putting patients under for surgery. When medical professionals negligently make medication errors, patients can suffer severe and debilitating injuries.
Medication errors describe a wide range of potentially harmful events involving various drugs, vitamins, and supplements in the healthcare system. Mistakes can happen when medical professionals incorrectly prescribe a medication, fill out a patient’s chart, or dispense or administer a drug improperly.
According to a study found in the National Library of Medicine, medication errors can be categorized in the following ways:
When healthcare providers commit medication errors, patients can suffer significant harm.
Medication mistakes are responsible for devastating consequences. Simple human error can cause permanent and life-threatening injuries. Whether a patient is administered the wrong medication or prescribed the wrong dosage, adverse drug reactions can lead to serious side effects and death.
When medical errors are due to a healthcare provider’s negligence, they may be subject to severe professional repercussions. Generally, physicians lose patient trust and sustain irreparable harm to their reputation. Medical professionals may have their license suspended or lose it completely. After suspension, earning back a medical license usually involves strict oversight for an extended amount of time.
Healthcare providers may even face criminal charges if the negligent act is considered willful. Physicians often face a medical board review for termination.
Medication errors are also very costly. Each year, preventable drug mistakes are responsible for more than $21 billion in healthcare expenses. An additional $40 billion are spent to help patients injured by medication errors. Globally, drug mistakes are responsible for over 1% of health expenses.
Some medications have a statistically higher rate of being involved in an error. This may be due to a number of reasons. For example, an anesthetic may look near identical to another medication. If similar-looking drugs are stored in close proximity, they can easily be mistaken for the other.
The most common drugs involved in medical errors are:
Society has come to rely on a tremendous number of medications. Today there are more than 10,000 prescription drugs on the market. Another 300,000 drugs are over the counter.
The following are important statistics regarding specific drug types prone to errors:
Some healthcare settings are more prone to medication errors than others. Given that larger medical facilities will have a disproportionate amount of careless drug mistakes than small clinics, error rates better illustrate vulnerable environments:
Nursing homes and long-term care facilities are also prone to medication errors. Older patients take far more medications than younger adults, significantly increasing the odds of a mistake.
Negligent drug errors in the medication-use system involve those who prescribe, administer, or dispense medications to patients.
Pharmacists, nurses, physicians, and other medical personnel have specific training to prevent medication errors. Negligence occurs when a healthcare provider fails to uphold the level of medical standard of care owed to their patient resulting in the patient’s harm.
Primary causes generally involve physical, psychological, and environmental reasons.
There are too many possible ways for medical professionals to make a drug mistake. Medication errors can happen in virtually any setting.
Some of the most common medication errors that lead to patient harm include the following:
If a physician prescribes the wrong medication containing the allergen, the patient could go into anaphylactic shock and die.
Medication errors can be prevented with proper quality control programs. Most mistakes are the result of human error. Having a better system of checks and balances via technology and personnel can eliminate the majority of serious adverse medication mistakes.
Medication errors can impact anyone. Patients can receive the wrong type of anesthetic for a routine procedure. Children can receive the wrong prescription at the pharmacy.
According to various studies, more than 7 million people are affected by medication errors in America every year:
We rely on medical professionals to administer the proper medications and in the correct dosages. However, if a doctor’s handwriting is illegible, a pharmacist dispenses the wrong medication, or a nurse misreads a label, patients suffer.
Receiving the wrong drug or improperly taking the correct one can cause devastating injuries. Patients may develop a skin rash or skin disfigurement initially. In some cases, the patient develops a new health problem. Wrong route errors with cytotoxic drug vincristine have left patients paralyzed and with chronic respiratory issues. Mistakes with blood thinners have led to patients bleeding out internally.
Medication errors have killed an average of 8,000 Americans each year. According to DataRay, Patient Safety Technologies, drug mistakes are the 8th leading cause of death.
The medication errors attorneys at Graves McLain have assisted numerous patients with personal injury claims. Call to schedule a free consultation today by dialing (918) 359-6600.
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