In Kentucky, Why are Medication Errors a Nurse’s Worst Nightmare?

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According to a nurse who authored an article about her terrible experience dealing with a medication error she made when she gave a Tylenol #4 rather than a Tylenol #3 while working in the surgery department of a hospital, she recalls how upset she was upon discovery of her mistake and immediately reported it in an incident report, however, felt sick about it for days. Fortunately, there is not a lot of difference in those two particular medications. But, she points out how easily nurses can get confused, especially if they are in a hurry or if a doctor has written an order that is very difficult to read. There are, however, safeguards that nurses may implement in order to avoid making possible and dangerous mistakes in administering medication. For example, during times that the physician gives a verbal order that might sound similar to another drug, nurses should take precaution and confirm with the doctor by reading the order back for clarification and safety. Further, it is smart for the nurse to chart that she read the information back to the prescribing physician – even if to cover her tracks.

Medication errors are made by nurses, but such medical mistakes involving medication are also made by pharmacists, physicians, and patients. Such medication mistakes include pharmacists having dispensed the wrong dosage, physicians having prescribed the wrong medication or wrote the prescription illegibly, and patients having taken the medication incorrectly. While it is simple enough for healthcare professional to verify a medication, route, patient or dose with the attending doctor, oftentimes medication errors are not noticed until an unexpected physical reaction by the patient, or the possibility of a serious injury or fatal one, occurs. In an effort to reduce and eliminate medication errors, and to avoid lawsuits relating to these types of medical or hospital mistakes, nurses are encouraged to double-check as to unclear written or verbally prescribed medications, and to consult a colleague or physician with regard to appropriate insulin dosage and side effects of generic medication.

Nurses need to be especially careful when dealing with an infant or pediatric patient. Most times, these individuals have a pediatric physician or baby doctor. If, however, the right dose is not given, then a baby may suffer serious permanent injury or fatality. For example, the news story about the celebrity Quaid twins being given the wrong dose of heparin was highly circulated among the public. Viewers and readers following the near-tragedy learned that the babies almost died due to this medication error in dosage, but also that the medication mistake could have been prevented if the proper measures were taken. Nurses need to also be careful when dealing with senior citizen patients. Individuals over the age of 60 are also at risk for undetected medication mistakes or these types of medical errors because these patients often take multiple prescription medications.

While nurses are expected to provide professional and responsible healthcare services, nurses must excercise extreme caution to be very careful when dealing with medications. It is the patient’s right to receive the proper drug through the correct route with the right dosage prescribed. It is also the nurse’s oath to deliver the best possible care as a medical professional. A medication error or other hospital mistake can lead to permanent injury and, in extreme cases, the wrongful death of a family member.

If you suspect that you, or a person you care about, may have been the victim of a medication error, prescription mistake or medical malpractice, then you should contact our law firm immediately. Gray and White Law has helped many families throughout Kentucky whose loved ones have suffered physical injuries as a result of a hospital mistake or medication mistake. Our team of experienced lawyers is ready to learn more about your case and to address any questions or concerns you might have. Contact us at any time for your free legal consultation via confidential e-mail or by toll-free call at 1-888-450-4456.