When you or a loved one become ill, we trust the doctors we see to help make us feel better. Often, they do this by prescribing medications that fix the problems going on inside our bodies. There are so many medications on the market that we often do not think of the complications and risks that each one has.
Have you or a loved one ever been harmed by a medication mistake? If you have, you may have many questions about your options. Medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the US, killing around 250,000 people a year. Many of these revolve around medication errors.
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What Can Go Wrong
The process of prescribing and receiving a medication may seem simple to us, but it is actually fairly complex. A doctor must give the order for a medication to be given. This order must then be received, reviewed, and filled by a pharmacist. After that, the medication is dispensed, either to a nurse to give it to the patient or directly to the patients themselves.
Often, medication errors revolve around the following mistakes:
- Wrong medication
- Wrong dosage
- Given another person’s medication
- Given a medication when allergic
- Adverse drug reactions
- Failure to warn of side effects
According to the FDA, medication errors can happen anywhere in the distribution system. This includes prescribing, repackaging administering, and monitoring. Errors harm an estimated 1.5 million people each year and kill more than 7,000 people annually.
The most commonly reported medication mistakes are “slips and lapses.” Perhaps the most disturbing problems arise due to interruptions and distractions while administering medications.
Upon leaving the hospital, studies show that up to 30 percent of patients have at least one medication discrepancy on their discharge orders. These mistakes go to the pharmacy and are prescribed to the patient. Often, these errors are not recognized until they cause an adverse reaction or during follow up visits. By then, there could be significant damage done.
Doctors and pharmacists should always explain the risks associated with medications as well as the proper dosages. For many medications, there is a fine line between taking too much and not taking enough.