Medication Errors


Medication errors are among the most common medical errors, harming at least 1.5 million people every year, according to a 2006 report from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. The extra medical costs of treating drug-related injuries occurring in hospitals alone conservatively amount to $3.5 billion a year. 

Errors are common at every stage, from prescription and administration of a drug to monitoring of the patient's response. It estimated that there is at least one medication error per hospital patient per day, although error rates vary widely across facilities. Not all errors lead to injury or death, but the number of preventable injuries that do occur is troubling.

New computerized systems for prescribing drugs and other applications of information technology show promise for reducing the number of drug-related mistakes. Studies indicate that paper-based prescribing is associated with high error rates. Electronic prescribing is safer because it eliminates problems with handwriting legibility and can automatically alert prescribers to possible interactions, allergies, and other potential problems. Many providers have already switched over to electronic systems.

Confusion caused by similar drug names accounts for up to 25 percent of all errors reported to the Medication Error Reporting Program http://www.usp.org/hqi/patientSafety/mer operated cooperatively by U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP). In addition, labeling and packaging issues were cited as the cause of 33 percent of errors, including 30 percent of fatalities, reported to the program. If you or someone you know has been injured by a medication or pharmacy error, contact a Utah medical malpractice lawyer today at The Faerber Law Firm (801) 943-1005 for a free, no obligation consultation.

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