According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), medication errors cause at least one death every day and injure over one million people in the US every year. Abundant research has been conducted into the causes of medication errors, and many simple, commonsense solutions have been found to prevent these needless errors and the injuries they cause. When doctors, nurses and hospitals fail to take these simple measures to prevent medication errors, they can and should be held liable for any injuries which result. The lawyers at Palmer | Lopez represent people who have been harmed by medication errors and fight to get them the compensation they deserve to deal with their medical costs, lost income, pain and suffering and other legal damages.
Common Causes of Medication Errors
At the very least medication errors may result in the patient not receiving proper treatment for a medical condition. At worst, a medication error may itself cause serious injury or even death. Some types of medications, such as insulin, opioids and anticoagulants, are known as high-alert medications because their misuse is more likely to cause serious injury or wrongful death. Of course, doctors, nurses and pharmacists should take care regarding any medication to prevent harmful mistakes. Nevertheless, medication errors occur frequently. Below are some of the most common mistakes made with medications.
- Doctor prescribes the wrong medicine or wrong dosage
- Doctor failed to take the patient’s history and consider interactions with other medications the patient is taking or any drug allergies
- Pharmacist fills a prescription with the wrong medicine or wrong dosage, or prints incorrect information on the label
- Nurse administers wrong drug or dose, or gives drug to wrong patient
- A drug delivery device delivers an overdose or not enough medicine, such as from a malfunctioning multi-dose insulin pen or an incorrectly programmed pain pump
- Hospital fails to monitor changes in patient’s condition
- Doctor or pharmacist fails to warn of side effects
Medication Errors can be Prevented
The research is already widely available; ninety percent of all medication errors are preventable. Hospitals already know the simple, reasonable steps they can take to reduce errors, but many simply do not take the time or do not wish to incur the expense to make potentially life-saving changes in their practices and protocols. Below are just some of the ways medication errors can be prevented:
- Train staff to avoid distractions when filling, selecting or administering prescriptions
- Use clear labels on drugs and storage spaces
- Improve communication between doctors and nurses
- Correct and update patient medical charts
- Use better handwriting or type or print prescriptions
- Double check dosage when zeroes and decimals are used
- Double check dosage when transcribing between metric and other dosing units
- Implement patient identity and prescription verification protocols before administering medication
- Double-check label and that bottle is filled with correct pill (correct size, shape, color, inscription, etc.)
- Eliminate the use of error-prone abbreviations
Doctors, nurses and pharmacists know full well the confusion that can be created from different drugs that are similarly-spelled or sound the same when spoken. Many simple strategies, such as using different lettering or verbally confirming a prescription, can prevent these common errors from causing patient harm. Unfortunately, patients may not know the cause if their condition worsens or if other symptoms appear. If you experience negative effects after taking a medication, talk to your doctor or pharmacist right away. If you suspect that an error occurred and need help figuring out what went wrong, talk to an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can help determine if a negligent medication error is the cause. In Tampa, Palmer | Lopez can help.
Call Palmer | Lopez in Tampa after a Serious Medication Error
When doctors, nurses, hospitals and pharmacies fail to take simple measures to prevent mistakes, serious harm is often the result. If you believe that you may have been harmed by a medication error in Tampa, call Palmer | Lopez at 813-506-5651 for a free consultation with one of our Tampa medical malpractice lawyers.