Wrong Drug or Dosage Dispensed by a Pharmacy
A report from September 2010 from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that more than 48% of Americans take at least one prescription drug each month, and one out of every five Americans uses five or more drugs. According to the CDC, the increasing number of people using multiple drugs is a continuing challenge that may contribute to adverse drug events, increased health care costs, and medication compliance issues.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that medication errors cause at least one death every day and injure approximately 1.3 million people annually in the United States. This significant number reinforces the need for aggressive prevention strategies. In an FDA study of fatal medication errors, the most common error was related to administration of an improper dose of medicine. Additionally, in a recent study published in the April 2008 edition of the journal Pediatrics, researchers found that roughly one out of 15 hospitalized children suffers a medication mix-up, accidental overdose, or drug reaction. The considerable problem with medication errors has prompted state and local governments and the health care industry to take action, and new technologies are being implemented in an effort to prevent medication errors. Unfortunately, even with new technologies in place, preventable medication errors are still widespread resulting in serious injuries and death.
Common Causes of Medication Errors:
- Incomplete patient information (such as not knowing about patients' allergies, other medicines they are taking, previous diagnoses, and lab results)
- Sound-alike or look-alike drug packaging
- Miscommunication of drug orders, which can involve poor handwriting, confusion between drugs with similar names, misuse of zeroes and decimal points, confusion of metric and other dosing units, and inappropriate abbreviations
- Unavailable drug information (such as lack of up-to-date warnings)
- Environmental factors, such as lighting, heat, noise, and interruptions, that can distract health professionals from their medical tasks
Simple Steps to Prevent Medication Errors:
- Tell your doctor and other health professionals about all the medicines you are taking including any over-the-counter medications and vitamin or dietary supplements
- Tell your doctor about any drug allergies or other reactions to medicine
- Stay in touch with your doctor if you are taking pain medicine
- Contact your physician immediately if you experience side effects that are severe or unexpected
There are many new methods now available online for consumers that quickly spread word about medication errors, drug recalls, and provide general guidance to consumers about ways to prevent medication errors. One website is ConsumerMedSafety.org, which contains a portal of information provided by the Institute for Safe Medicine Practices (ISMP) where consumers can sign up for customized alerts about the medications they take and report problems they encounter with the medications. Another website is MedWatch, a FDA-sponsored site for safety information on prescription drugs and other medical products where patients can submit reports of medication errors and other serious adverse reactions directly to the FDA.
Tampa Medical Malpractice Attorneys
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury, disability, or death due to a medication error by a medical professional, please contact one of the experienced Board-certified Tampa medical malpractice attorneys at the law firm of Alley, Clark & Greiwe to learn important information about your legal rights.