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How common are medication errors?

On Behalf of | Mar 1, 2024 | Medical Errors |

Americans are fortunate to live during a time when advancements in the field of medicine regularly save lives and improve patient outcomes. Researchers work tirelessly to develop new drugs that have helped millions worldwide.

However, these life-saving pharmaceuticals can cause irreversible damage or even death if prescribed or administered incorrectly.

How do medication errors occur?

The statistics are frightening. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) receives approximately 100,000 reports of medication errors annually. A medication error has impacted 41% of Americans, whether it happened to themselves or a close friend or family member. Furthermore, 10% of hospital patients will experience such an error during their stay.

Medication errors can happen at any stage of the process:

  • During the prescription stage, an error can include the healthcare provider prescribing the wrong medication due to a misdiagnosis, prescribing the wrong dosage, or failing to consider a patient’s allergies or potential drug interactions.
  • Errors can occur during the dispensing stage when the wrong medication is provided, or it is the correct medication but the wrong strength or quantity.
  • The administration stage is when the medication is given to the patient. Errors can occur if the drug is administered to the wrong patient, at the wrong time, in the wrong dosage, or via the incorrect route.
  • After a medication is administered, patients should be monitored for effectiveness and side effects. Errors can occur during the monitoring stage if a healthcare provider fails to notice or act upon an adverse drug reaction.

Multiple systemic factors contribute to medication errors, including:

  • Poor communication among healthcare providers or between provider and patient
  • Inadequate medication reconciliation systems
  • Incomplete patient information
  • Inaccurate medication administration records

Patient safety is of the utmost importance, and preventing medication errors requires a multifaceted approach at all stages of the medication process. In some cases, a medication error could be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. If you have been harmed by a medication error, you’ll want to your situation with a legal team that can guide you on the best course of action.