The Dangers of Medication Errors

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We are fortunate to live in a time when medical science has advanced to such a degree as to develop a vast variety of medications that can treat or cure a number of diseases and medical conditions. However, with this increase in dependency on medications also comes a high risk of injury if the medications are not prescribed or administered in the proper manner. In fact, medication errors are the number one cause of injuries/deaths due to medical negligence.

What is a Medication Error?

A medication error occurs when a negligent act by a healthcare professional leads to inappropriate medication use, causing harm to a patient or consumer. The most common types of reported errors are wrong dosage and incorrect infusion rates. Administering the wrong drug can also happen when medical professionals use abbreviated drug names or confuse two drugs with similar names.

It is also important to note that errors in mediation can occur when the healthcare provider does not take into account the interaction between drugs, especially in patients who are on a large regiment of different medications. There have been a number of cases where the pharmacy has actually given the wrong prescription or the wrong dosage. Many patients never check the prescription bottle to ensure they have been given the right medication or if the dosage is the same as the doctor originally prescribed.

Discovering a Medication Error

Discovery of a medication error usually occurs when the patient experiences an unexpected reaction to the administration of the drug. Fortunately, many of these are caught in time before serious injury occurs. However, such errors can also go undetected in time to reverse the effects.

In one case, a patient was given an infusion device that would automatically deliver a prescribed dosage of chemotherapy drugs over a 24 hour period. The nurse programming the device negligently entered in the wrong information and instead of gradually having the medication infused the entire dose was delivered in a 2 hour period. The patient went into medication shock and despite the best efforts to reverse the effect of the mediation, the patient died two days later.

As patients, we admittedly depend on our healthcare providers to prescribe the correct medication and we depend on the pharmacy to prepare the correct medication at the right dosage. Errors in medication can have dire consequences.

Contact a Skilled Attorney Today

If you suspect or experience any unexpected reaction to medication you have been prescribed, you should notify your healthcare provider and seek immediate attention if the adverse reaction is significant. In these types of errors, time is of the essence. Contact a medical negligence attorney today to schedule a consultation and discuss your case.

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