Data presented in the Clinical Toxicology journal shows that medication errors have doubled since 2000. Last year, there were more than 1.5 million medication mistakes made by physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists, and pharmacists. These errors cause adverse health events that have a significant impact on patient safety and mortality rates.
Common Medication Errors
The most common medication error is delivering the improper dose of medication. This accounts for approximately 40% of all adverse events. This error is followed by administering the wrong medication and using the wrong method of administering the drug. Nationwide, nearly 50% of all fatal medication errors occur in patients over the age of 60. This is due in part to the reality that many older patients take multiple medications and the incorrect dosage of one medication often creates a chain reaction of adverse events that overwhelm the patient’s health.
The most common drugs involved in causing adverse events are heart medications including blood thinners. Painkillers and hormone therapies including insulin prescribed to treat diabetes account for a large number of instances as well. Approximately 33% of patients who experience a medication error will require hospitalization.
In addition to these errors, the overprescription of opioid medication is causing a considerable number of opiate addictions, accidental poisonings, and overdoses. In fact, 80% of overdoses and poisonings occur when patients are treated with both acetaminophen and opioid medication at the same time.
Medication Errors are Preventable
Medication errors are preventable and healthcare workers have a duty of care to their patients to carefully read labels, medical charts, and administration instructions to protect their patients. Implementing technologies including computerized order entry, bar-coding medications, using smart pumps to administer medications, and using Adverse Drug Event (ADE) monitoring have proven to be effective at reducing the number of medication errors that occur within healthcare and nursing facilities.
Liability for Medication Errors
Medication errors can cause serious adverse events that can complicate treatment and may negatively impact patient mortality. Individuals who have been injured or survivors whose loved ones passed away due to a medication error can pursue compensation from those who are liable for the mistake. This can include the healthcare worker, the treatment facility, and potentially the drug manufacturer. Medical malpractice lawyers in Illinois can help individuals determine the factors that led to the medication error and document the negative impact the mistake has had on the patient’s health and well-being.