A recent study published in the journal, Clinical Toxicology, reported that medication errors leading to adverse health outcomes have doubled since the year 2000. Doctors, pharmacists, and healthcare workers are responsible for 1.5 million medication errors each year in the United States that leave patients facing emergency situations, hospitals stays, and in some cases, death.
Medication errors are almost always preventable, leaving doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and hospital workers potentially liable for damages when a patient suffers the ill effects of their negligence. Prescribing the wrong medication, failing to check the patient’s medical and prescription history to avoid dangerous drug interactions, and accidental overdose resulting from improper dosage are just some of the situations that lead to this type of medical malpractice.
The study found that the most serious errors involved heart medications, painkillers, and hormone therapy, including insulin. One-third of these patients required hospital stays. While one-fifth of reported patient deaths resulted from errors with heart medications, two-thirds of the total number of fatal incidents involved taking a combination of heart medications and synthetic opioids. Eleven percent of patient deaths involved improper dosages of insulin in diabetic patients. Too much or too little of this hormone therapy can lead to diabetic shock or ketoacidosis.
Moreover, over-prescribing of narcotic pain medications over the past decade has led to an increase in opiate addiction and overdose. Twelve percent of accidental poisonings were attributed to painkiller medications with 80 percent of these instances involving medications containing acetaminophen and opioids.
Doctors, Pharmacists, and Hospitals Have a Duty to Ensure Patient Safety
The majority of medication errors can be prevented by establishing and enforcing strict safety procedures. Medication administration should be logged and carefully analyzed by healthcare workers in hospitals, surgical centers, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities. Doctors and pharmacists must be particularly careful when prescribing or filling prescription medications since many patients who abuse prescription drugs will visit multiple doctors and pharmacies to supply their addictions. Many overdoses can be prevented by cross checking the patient’s prescription history through online databases. Adverse drug interactions and allergic reactions can also be avoided by utilizing these online resources.
Pharmaceutical companies and drug manufacturers can help prevent medication errors with improved product labeling and packaging. Color-coding, graphics, and clear warning labels on medication packages can help pharmacists easily distinguish between various medications that often have similar spellings. Improvements in pharmaceutical packaging that include clear instructions regarding dosage information and drug interactions can also help patients avoid dangerous medication errors at home.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Patients Injured by Medication Errors
Medication errors can result in serious health complications and even death. If you or someone you know has suffered or died as a result of a medication error, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the experienced Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness , Tolzman & Hamilton at 800-547-4LAW (4529), or contact us online to schedule a consultation today.
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