Your doctor prescribes medicine to make you feel better or to treat a disease, but what if she prescribes the wrong dosage? Or what if you take an over-the-counter medication to control the symptoms of a cold or allergy and take an overdose, even though you followed the instruction on the label?
Each year, medication errors harm about 1.3 million people in the United States. According to the National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention, a medication error is “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…related to professional practice, health care products, procedures, and systems, including prescribing, order communication, product labeling, packaging, and nomenclature; compounding; dispensing; distribution; administration; education; monitoring; and use.”
Who Monitors Medication Errors?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) analyzes medication error reports from the following sources:
- Drug manufacturers;
- MedWatch, the FDA’s safety information and adverse-event reporting program;
- The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP); and
- The U.S. Pharmacopeia.
What Are Risk Factors for Medication Error?
According to a study published in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy, three factors are responsible for the majority of medication errors in hospitals:
- Thirty-day readmission to the hospital;
- Time of day (between 3:00 a.m. and 6:59 a.m.); and
- Inclusion on the Institute for Safe Medication Practices high-alert medications list.
What Are the Most Common Medication Errors?
The FDA analyzed reports of fatal medication errors from 1993 to 1998. Their findings revealed that the following types of errors occurred most often:
- Administering an incorrect dose of medicine (41 percent);
- Administering the wrong medication (16 percent); and
- Using the wrong route of administration.
The study also revealed that nearly half of all medication error fatalities occurred in people older than 60 years, perhaps because they often take more than one prescription medicine.
What Is the Cost of Medication Errors?
John Goodman and his associates at the National Center for Policy Analysis reported that medical errors cause about 187,000 deaths in hospitals annually. They also found that 6.1 million injuries—in and out of hospitals—occur because of medical errors. The study estimated that the cost of deaths and disabilities from medical errors in 2006 was between $393 billion and $958 billion, or 18 to 45 percent of total spending on health care in the United States.
If you or someone you love has suffered because of a medication error in Kentucky due to faulty labeling, incorrect administration, or another preventable mistake, contact the Louisville medication error attorneys at Gray and White Law. Call us at 502-210-8942 or toll free at 888-450-4456 and set up a FREE, no-obligation consultation.