How common are medication errors?

On Behalf of | Apr 9, 2024 | Personal Injury

Modern medicine is a wonderful thing. Researchers and scientists continue to find cutting-edge treatments for diseases that would’ve been fatal just a few decades ago.

However, some of these life-saving medications could have significant negative consequences if not appropriately administered.

How do medication errors happen?

Over 115 million American adults are taking some form of medication. Each year, approximately seven million people are impacted by medication errors, with 7,000 to 8,000 being fatal. These errors represent a significant challenge for healthcare.

Medication errors cover a broad spectrum of mistakes that can occur during any phase of prescribing, dispensing, administering or monitoring medications. Errors can include:

  • Incorrect dosages
  • Wrong medication
  • Drug interactions
  • Wrong route of delivery
  • Missed doses
  • Medications given to the wrong patient

Medication errors can occur in any healthcare setting, such as hospitals, nursing homes, physicians’ offices, clinics and pharmacies. Various factors contribute to the problem, including:

  • Miscommunication between healthcare providers
  • Illegible prescriptions
  • Inadequate training
  • Inaccurate documentation
  • Lack of access to medical records
  • Distractions

These mistakes pose a significant threat to patient safety and could potentially result in adverse drug reactions, treatment delays, drug toxicity, hospital readmissions and even death.

In addition to the human toll, medication errors can have financial and legal repercussions for healthcare providers. They owe their patients a duty of care to provide treatment that meets a certain standard and prioritizes patient safety. This duty includes prescribing, dispensing, administering and monitoring medications.

A medication error may constitute a breach of duty if the healthcare provider deviates from the expected standard of care. Suppose the error causes harm or injury to the patient, resulting in damages in the form of medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, disability or emotional distress. The patient may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit in that case.

If you or a loved one has been harmed due to a medication error, you will want to discuss your situation with someone who can review the details and help you determine the best course of action.


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