Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other medical providers who are involved in prescribing or administering medications undergo training. They are taught to check to ensure they have the right patient and the right drug and dose. They are also trained to check to make sure they are administering medication at the right time and by the correct route. Healthcare providers are also expected to give or prescribe medications for the right reasons and to keep accurate medication administration records. Whenever healthcare providers fail in any one of these steps, serious prescription errors can result and cause severe harm to patients. Here are some common types of medication errors, their potential consequences, and why these types of mistakes might occur.
Types Of Medication Errors
Many different types of medication errors can occur and result in serious consequences.
Some common examples of medication mistakes include the following:
- Prescribing the wrong drug to treat a condition
- Prescribing too much or too little of a drug
- Administering the wrong drug to a patient
- Administering the wrong dose of a drug to a hospitalized patient
- Failing to check a patient’s medical history before prescribing a drug
- Prescribing a drug that has dangerous interactions with other medications the patient is taking
- Prescribing a drug to which the patient has an allergy
- Failing to explain the risks of a drug to a patient
- Prescribing drugs for improper off-label uses
Why Medication Errors Occur
Medication errors can happen when hospitals, doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and others are disorganized or have poor communication. They can also happen when a doctor makes errors when writing a prescription. If a doctor doesn’t pay attention, he or she might make an error in a handwritten order. A pharmacist might also mishear what a doctor says over the phone and fill a patient’s prescription in a way the doctor did not intend.
Some errors happen when pharmacists misread dosages because of the placement of decimal points. This can result in a patient receiving a significantly higher dose than what was prescribed.
Errors can sometimes occur in pharmacies when medications are improperly stored. Some medications are visibly similar to others but have drastically different results. If a pharmacy is disorganized with poor storage and labeling, these types of mistakes can sometimes occur.
Some medication errors can be prevented by having a second person confirm an order. A two-person confirmation might help to catch drug warnings and avoid problems with drugs that sound or look alike. A lack of a two-person confirmation system can cause some errors.
Some other common reasons why medication errors happen include the following:
- Inadequate training about medications for healthcare workers
- Pharmacy technicians without the proper training, knowledge, or experience
- Poor communication between doctors and other healthcare staff members
- Not spending enough time with patients to obtain a complete medical history
- Inadequate protocols and procedures at various levels
- Poor patient monitoring after a medication has been administered
Consequences Of Medication Errors
A broad variety of complications can occur when a doctor or another medical provider makes a medication mistake. The consequences of a medication error might range from little noticeable effects to severe injuries or death. Since these types of injuries are largely preventable, it is critical for patients to understand their rights and to take steps to prevent medication errors from occurring.
Make sure you bring a complete list of all medications you are taking with you to your doctor’s office or the hospital. Your list should include over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, supplements, and herbs in addition to any prescription medications you are taking. Make sure the nurse and doctor review your list and includes it in your medical chart. You should also tell your doctor or nurse about any allergic reactions you have had in the past. When a doctor prescribes a medication to you, ask about its risks. Verify the dosage with the doctor. When you go to the pharmacy, confirm the information on the prescription bottle to ensure that the medication is the right drug and in the right dose.
If you are seriously injured because of a prescription error, you should also understand your rights. You might be entitled to pursue compensation by filing a medical malpractice claim.
Talk To A Medical Malpractice Attorney At Raynes & Lawn
If you or your loved one suffered serious injuries or complications because of a prescription drug error, you should speak to an experienced attorney at Raynes & Lawn. We can review your case with a medical expert to determine how the mistake was made and whether it caused your injuries and losses. We have represented the victims of medical negligence for more than 50 years and have extensive resources available to fully investigate and litigate malpractice claims on our clients’ behalf throughout Pennsylvania. Contact us today for a free consultation by calling 1-800-535-1797.
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