Medication Errors: How and Why They Happen

Medication Errors: How and Why They Happen

Posted By Maher Law Firm || 27-Jul-2018

It is not uncommon to walk into a hospital or even your doctor’s office and find that the staff is overwhelmed. Doctors and other health care providers see countless patients every hour of every day and are expected to uphold the standard of care that is expected of them to ensure that no one is harmed unnecessarily. Unfortunately, mistakes happen and, when they occur as result of negligence, injured patients can file a medical malpractice claim to seek fair and just compensation for their suffering and the costs associated with their injuries.

Types of Medication Errors

Medication errors can occur in a variety of ways, anywhere along the route, from the moment the doctor writes up a prescription to when the patient picks up the medication from a pharmacy. Below is a list of the common types of medication errors:

  • Prescription errors: This involves errors in the selection of the drug, which a patient might be allergic to. It could also include the wrong dose, form, quantity, concentration, and rate of admission.
  • Omission errors: Failing to give a medication dose before the next one is scheduled can sometimes result in unpleasant side effects or injuries to a patient.
  • Wrong time errors: When medication is not administered at the appropriate time or at specific predetermined intervals, this could also harm a patient.
  • Improper dosing: A patient’s condition can be negatively affected when a greater or lesser amount of a medication is required to manage it.
  • Wrong dose errors: In some cases, the correct dosage is prescribed, but the wrong dose is administered, which often results in severe consequences.
  • Fragmented care errors: Sometimes there could be an error in communication between the prescribing physician and other health care professionals, which could result in a vast array of problems.

Causes of Medication Errors

Just as there are several different kinds of medication errors, there are many causes. Below are some of the most common causes of medication errors:

  • Distraction: There is no excuse for a medical professional to be distracted while caring for patients. Given how understaffed and overworked many of them are, distractions cause a lot of errors, especially when it comes to ensuring a patient receives the right medication.
  • Environment: A lot of environmental factors in a medical setting can lead to errors, including lack of proper lighting, heat or cold, and other variables that can affect the focus of a medical professional, especially when they are overworked.
  • Lack of knowledge: Not every medical professional who treats you will be as knowledgeable as the last one. However, those who do not have a complete or thorough knowledge of how a drug works, or how it interacts with other drugs could easily make devastating errors.
  • Incomplete patient information: In some cases, medical professionals mind not have all of a patient’s information and are unaware of any medications they are allergic to, previous diagnoses, or current lab test results. Without this information, a patient’s wellbeing and life are at risk.
  • Systemic problems: When medications are not properly labeled, or medications with similar names are close to one another, and a barcode scanning system is not in place, this can lead to some serious medical errors.

Preventing Errors

Medication errors are primarily the result of human error and, therefore, they are generally preventable. Ways in which health care providers can prevent these egregious mistakes from occurring include:

  • Know the patient: Whenever a medical professional is treating a patient, he or she should know the patient’s name, age, date of birth, weight, allergies, diagnosis, and any current lab test results. In some cases, patients have a barcode armband. While this is useful, it should not be solely relied upon. Double check everything.
  • Know the drug: It is important for medical professionals to have access to current and readily available drug information. If they have questions or concerns about a drug, it is critical that they ask questions to avoid a preventable medication error.
  • Communicate effectively: A breakdown in communication between physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other health care providers can cause medication errors, so it is crucial to keep the lines of communication open and effectively exchange information.
  • Double check high-risk medications: Medication errors should never happen, even when they only result in minimal harm. That said, certain high-risk medications should always be double checked with another nurse or medical professional to ensure no life-threatening accidents occur.
  • Inform the patient of the drugs they are taking: Medical professionals should also make an effort to keep patients informed regarding the medications they are taking, what they are for, and how to take them, in addition to any potential side effects they might experience.

Medical Malpractice Attorney in Orlando

If you were harmed by a medication error caused by a negligent medical professional, you have a right to pursue fair and just compensation. At The Maher Law Firm in Orlando, our medical malpractice attorneys have diligently fought on behalf of patients injured by healthcare providers for over 40 years. No matter how complex your case might be, you can rely on our experience and knowledge to ensure you receive a favorable outcome.

Get started on your case today and contact our team at (855) 338-0720 to request your free initial case evaluation.

Categories: Medical Malpractice
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