Medical malpractice comes in several forms, one of which is the dispensing of incorrect medication. When you’re in the hospital and you receive the wrong medication or the wrong dose, the outcome can be physically, emotionally, and financially devastating. In some cases, it can even be fatal.
In its 2006 report Preventing Medication Errors, the Institute of Medicine estimated that every year, 1.5 million patients are harmed by prescription medication errors. This included:
- 400,000 hospital patients
- 800,000 people in long-term care facilities
- 530,000 Medicare recipients in outpatient clinics
As if these statistics weren’t alarming enough, the report authors added that the numbers were likely underestimates of the real and serious problem.
More recently, Johns Hopkins estimated that over 250,000 people die in the U.S. every year because of medical errors, making it the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer.
Statements like this might make anyone uneasy about seeking medical care in the hospital. If you’re injured or ill, however, you may need to be in the hospital.
What Causes Hospital Medication Errors?
According to the Institute of Medicine, a medication error is a preventable event occurring while the medication is in the control of healthcare professionals such as doctors, nurses, or pharmacists. The most common forms of medication error are the dispensing of improper dosages and the dispensing of incorrect medications.
What causes or contributes to medication errors made by trained and qualified hospital pharmacists? Known factors include:
- Illegible handwriting on a prescription form
- Misleading medication labels
- Ineffective supervision
Patients should not be expected to confirm the accuracy of their medications and dosages. In a hospital setting, it is the responsibility of the nurse to confirm these details before the patient receives the medication.
Most hospitals have computer systems designed to dispense and administer medications. Even with the most efficient technology, things can still go wrong. For example, after the medication has left the pharmacist, there may be errors with the next medical professional:
- Mismatching medication and patients
- Dispensing incorrect doses
When the medical professionals rely on technology but fail to do a final check before providing medication to a patient, the results can be fatal.
What’s the Bottom Line?
If you or a loved one has been harmed after a medication error in a hospital setting, you may be wondering how to seek compensation and justice. At Fales & Fales, P.A., we fight for clients to redress cases of medical negligence.
Prescription drug errors in hospitals can involve complex medical evidence. Our dedicated attorneys have the insight and experience to get results. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact us.