Understanding how and why medication errors occur


The average patient in a hospital will encounter a medication-related error every day, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The AHRQ reports that every year, 1.5 million people in hospitals in California and across the country will suffer an injury from a medication. At Kampf, Schiavone & Associates, we know how frightening this may sound. It is vital that you understand the scope of the problem and ways you could prevent it.

The frequency of the issue can be traced to a number of factors, such as the following: 

  •        Physicians make dosing errors based on a patient’s weight, which is especially true when it comes to children.
  •        Some medications have similar names but very different qualities, providing for a dangerous mix-up.
  •        Medical equipment designed to deliver medication can fail and cause someone to receive either too little or too much of a drug.

It is also possible that a diagnostic error will result in a medication mistake. For example, when people are diagnosed and treated for a condition they do not have, they could suffer adverse reactions to the medications they receive.

As more people have access to health care and prescription medications, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that the number of people who encounter a medication mistake will continue to rise. Experts suggest that you can combat the issue by speaking with your physician about why a drug has been prescribed and what the potential side effects could be. Also, anyone taking more than one medication should consult with a medical professional regarding how the drugs could affect each other.

Even with these safeguards, it may be difficult to circumvent medical negligence. We have seen too often how trusted doctors can make a mistake. For more information on what to do when these errors occur, please visit our page on medical malpractice.

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