WHEN MEDICATION ERRORS CAUSE HARM
July 22nd, 2018 | Michelle M. Quinn
When someone says the term ‘medication error’ what is the first thing that comes to mind? Perhaps going to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription and realizing you were given the wrong prescription. Or, you may have been given the right prescription, but a serious drug interaction was missed by both your doctor and the pharmacy. Or, you may have been prescribed the wrong medication while you were hospitalized.
A medication error is defined as any error occurring in the medication use process, including prescribing, transcribing, dispensing, administration, adherence, and monitoring. Nationally, medication errors result in 3.5 million visits to physicians and over 1 million trips to the Emergency Room each year. Almost 30% of patients in the hospital nationally will have at least one discharge medication discrepancy according to the CDC and National Institute of Health. Both agencies also believe that medication errors are significantly underreported. According to the National Institute of Health, preventable medication errors cost almost $21 billion annually across all care settings.
In Pennsylvania, the Emergency Department is the third leading cause of medication errors, including incorrect doses as well as overdoses. One of the biggest sources for error is when medications with similar sounding names are inadvertently switched. “Medication errors can lead to serious and sometimes fatal outcomes. Many times, patients and their families aren’t aware there has been an error until after the fact,” says Personal Injury Attorney Michelle Quinn.
While a system to prevent medication errors exists, according to a recent study by the Patient Safety Authority in Pennsylvania, there were 2.2 million safety reports made between 2004-2014. Of the over 2 million reports, medication error was the second most reported event. Those most likely to be affected included the elderly and those with language barriers.
According to experts at The Mayo Clinic, one of the most important factors in preventing medication errors is the patient’s active participation in their medical care. The Mayo Clinic encourages patients to ask questions, especially if the treatment plan provided by your doctor and the medications you receive at the pharmacy seem to contradict each other. Check your prescription containers from the pharmacy and compare the labels to your discharge instructions before using medications. There should be a description of the medication on the container. Make sure the description matches the contents of the container and your prescription. If there is a difference between the dosing instructions on the container and what you discussed with your doctor, be sure to call your doctor immediately. Make sure you take your medications in the manner prescribed by your doctor and the label on your medication containers. Know the side effects and interactions of other prescriptions, non-prescription medications and herbal remedies. Make sure to read any information attached to your prescription. The materials often contain important information about the timing of your medication regarding certain foods, possible allergic reactions, and what to do if you miss a dose. Do some research - a list of similar-sounding medication names can be obtained from your doctor or on reputable Internet sites such as the Joint Commission at www.jointcommission.org.
If you believe that you or your loved one has been seriously or fatally injured due to the negligence of a medication error, call the Personal Injury Attorneys at HKQ Law at (800) 760-1LAW for your no obligation consultation.