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Medication Errors

Prescription Drugs

Medication errors involving prescription drugs account for 1.5 million injuries and deaths per year according to the esteemed Institute of Medicine. Of this number, 400,000 cases of medication errors are preventable.

 

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Approximately 800,000 prescription medication errors occur in nursing homes, 530,000 in outpatient clinics that tend to Medicare patients and 400,000 in hospitals.

Between 44,000 and 98,000 people die every year in hospitals due to prescription medication errors. The cost for preventable medication errors in hospitals tops $3.5 billion every year. Add to this number the cost for medical malpractice lawsuits, because of prescription errors, is estimated between $17 billion and $29 billion per year.

Hospitals and long-term care facilities generally do not report medication errors to patients and family member unless injury or death occurs. Common errors include the writing of prescriptions that interact with another drug the patient is taking, a nurse putting the wrong medication or incorrect dose in an intravenous drip (IV) or a pharmacist dispensing the incorrect dosage. Other errors include not taking into account the age and weight of a patient, disregarding allergies and other health complications, or prescription errors because of illegible handwriting.

Doctors try to abide by the five R's when prescribing medication to insure that prescription mediation errors don't occur. The five R's represent a quick and effective safety checklist used to curb prescription incidents. These five R's include Right patient, Right medication, Right dosage, Right route and Right time.

Besides the safety checks and balances that doctors, pharmacists and hospitals are currently using that clearly are not working, the Institute of Medicine recommends additional safety measures in order to curb the rising tide of medication errors in this country. Some of the new safety measures recommended by the Institute of Medicine include electronic prescriptions, a standardized bar-code system for dispensing and checking prescribed drugs and additional patient involvement.

The Institute of Medicine also says the FDA and pharmaceutical industry needs to make prescription drug information more accessible to consumers. Prescription drug packaging also needs to be revamped in order to be more error-proof. One specific recommendation by the Institute of Medicine is that more drug be dispensed in blister packs so that the drugs are easier to identify and it's easier for patients to remember whether they've taken their daily dosage.

Both the elderly and children are more susceptible to prescription medication errors than the general population. The elderly are susceptible because they generally take more medications and have more healthcare providers helping them. Children are susceptible because their bodies are immature and often lack the ability to tolerate and metabolize toxic levels of a medication as many adults can.

Negligence claims involving prescription medication errors are some of the most common personal injury lawsuits that an attorney will handle. If you or a loved one has been injured because of a prescription medication error it is important to contact a personal injury lawyer right away so that they can gather important relative documents, depose witnesses and file papers before the statute of limitation runs out. Waiting too long in this type of case, may just be a prescription for disaster.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


 

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