Every year, between 44,000 and 98,000 people in hospitals in the United States suffer fatal injuries because of medication errors, as recently reported. Since these are fatalities that could have been otherwise avoided, this is staggering news. A medication error can happen at any stage of the drug treatment process; prescribing, interpreting, dispensing, or administering.
Many medication errors are caused by a lack of drug knowledge, including indications and contraindications, appropriate doses, maximum doses, routes, and drug-drug interactions. When an error occurs, diagnosing it can be challenging because all drugs have a wide array of possible side effects. However, there are common side effects to watch for, including fatigue, nausea, vomiting, faintness, mood changes, headaches, changes in bowel habits, sleep disturbances, and maculopapular rashes. An undocumented allergy can also be the cause of an adverse drug event. That’s why it is essential that prescribers confirm allergy history with patients each time a medication is prescribed. Prescribers should also ask patients to describe their reactions, including the symptoms surrounding it and the symptoms before, excluding therapeutic options.
Medication errors are also frequently caused by physicians using new medications and/or medications they are not familiar with. This can lead to devastating consequences if a medication has an adverse interaction with another medication that may cause side-effects and/or render one of the medications to become ineffective.
A medication error can also be caused by lack of communication. This can be associated with poor handwriting, misinterpreted verbal orders, the use of abbreviations, or misplaced decimals. Miscommunication can also happen between the clinician and the patient. That’s why prescribers should make sure everything is clearly understood by the patient, including potential side effects. Certain special populations, such as children and the elderly, are often the victims of medication error. Clarity in prescribing and good communication with caregivers or patients could lessen the incident of mistakes.
If you or someone you love has been injured because of a medication error, please call the New Jersey medication error lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy, LLP at 732-777-0100. You may also contact us online. We will provide the knowledgeable guidance you need to recover compensation for your suffering. Our offices are conveniently located in Edison, Red Bank, and Toms River, and we represent clients throughout the state of New Jersey.