Common Causes of Medication Errors

An adverse drug event (ADE), which refers to harm a patient may experience due to use of medication, is the cause of close to 700,000 emergency department visits and 100,000 hospitalizations in the U.S. each year according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services . The AHRQ also says, “ADEs affect nearly 5% of hospitalized patients, making them one of the most common types of inpatient errors; ambulatory patients may experience ADEs at even higher rates.” (https://psnet.ahrq.gov/primers/primer/23/medication-errors)

The bigger concern that the government faces, especially the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, is the fact that these overdose problems are not caused by illegal drugs, like cocaine and heroin, but by medicinal pills that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and prescribed by doctors, sometimes even for off-label use (or for use not approved by the FDA).

The purpose of prescription drugs is to maintain health and sustain life. To serve their real purpose these will have to be taken in accordance with medical guidelines because if abused or used much longer or more often than instructed by doctors or used in ways other than medically directed, then these can very well cause not only harmful side effects, but even death.

Not all prescription drugs pose harm. The ones that do are those that people tend to use every day, like opiate-based pain relievers, anxiety medications, sedatives and stimulants, despite their addictive and very strong effects.

Problems concerning medication overdose is just one side of the coin. More serious than this is medication error which refers to “any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient, or consumer.”

“Medication errors, as discussed in the website of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), cause at least one death every day and injure approximately 1.3 million people annually in the United States. Medication mishaps can occur anywhere in the distribution system: prescribing, repackaging, dispensing, administering, or monitoring.

Common causes of such errors include: poor communication, ambiguities in product names, directions for use, medical abbreviations or writing, poor procedures or techniques, or patient misuse because of poor understanding of the directions for use of the product.

In addition, job stress, lack of product knowledge or training, or similar labeling or packaging of a product may be the cause of, or contribute to, an actual or potential error.” (http://www.fda.gov/drugs/drugsafety/medicationerrors/)

In the website of the law firm Habush Habush & Rottier, S.C. ®, it is said that “Numerous studies have shown that as many as 10 percent of medical prescriptions are erroneously filled. Obviously, receiving the wrong medication can have serious medical effects, even including serious illness, organ failure, or death. Prescription medication errors fall into two main categories —wrong medication or wrong dosage. In other cases, pharmacists may also fail to consider known drug allergies or dangerous drug interactions with other medications the patient is also taking.

In pursuing damages for pharmacy errors, pharmacy error attorneys collect and interpret all of the needed medical records and consult with expert pharmacology professionals who can testify about the toxicity of the specific drug or dosage received. Pharmacy malpractice lawyers also confer with experts who can show that the pharmacist made an error from a clearly written prescription.”

If you think that you have been injured by a pharmacy error, it will be wise to get experienced legal help immediately.

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