Medication Errors

Medication Errors

As many as 98,000 people die every year from avoidable medical errors in hospitals, and medical errors are the eighth leading cause of death in the United States. One of the most common avoidable medical errors is a medication error, which kills approximately 7,000 each year.

It is the responsibility of the hospital and the healthcare staff to order and dispense the correct medications, but the sad truth is this does not always happen. A patient should not have to worry whether he or she is being given the correct medication at the right time because that is the job of the hospital and the healthcare personnel.

Common medication errors

Medication errors can occur at any point in the healthcare delivery system. These are some common medication errors:

  • Physician’s lack of knowledge about the drug or the patient for whom it was prescribed
  • Incomplete patient information, such as allergies, other medications, previous diagnoses and lab results
  • Gaps in the healthcare professional’s knowledge about medications
  • Miscommunication of drug orders due to poor handwriting, confusion between drugs with similar names, misuse of zeroes and decimal points, confusion between metric and other dosing units, and inappropriate abbreviations
  • Environmental factors, such as lighting, heat, noise and other interruptions that can distract healthcare providers from their medical tasks

How to avoid a medication error

Even though this responsibility to order and dispense the correct medication falls on the hospital and the healthcare provider, there are some things you can do to avoid a medication error:

  • Know what medications you are taking.
  • Keep a list of all prescription and non-prescription or over-the-counter drugs, dietary supplements, medicinal herbs, vitamins, laxatives, sleeping aids, birth control pills and other substances you take for health reasons, and report these to your healthcare provider. Bring the list with you to the hospital and provide it to medical personnel.
  • Know what bad reactions you have had to any medication, write it down, and keep it with you. Provide a list of those reactions and allergies when you go to your doctor or the hospital, even if they do not ask for it.
  • Before you are hospitalized, ask your doctor about the hospital’s system to give its patients their medications safely.
  • Ask if the hospital’s policies require the pharmacist to take an active role in your care by checking to see how you are doing, if you are taking your medications, and what type of side effects, if any, you are having.

What if I was injured by a medication error?

Even with this education, unfortunately medication errors occur due to the negligence of others. If you have been injured due to a medication error, your best course is to contact Connecticut medical malpractice lawyer Vincent DeAngelo for a free initial consultation. He can investigate the circumstances of the error and determine whether you have a medical malpractice case against your healthcare provider.

Discuss your case with a Connecticut medical malpractice attorney

Attorney Vincent M. DeAngelo makes this promise: "I will give you hard work and straight talk". For a free consultation to discuss your medical malpractice or other personal injury case, call him at 860.246.3500 or use the online form.  He handles cases in the Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport, and Milford areas.