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The Unsettling Frequency of Prescription Medication Mistakes in the U.S.

Posted on in Medical Malpractice

IL injury lawyerIf you are like most people who get a prescription medication, you probably do not think to confirm the type and dosage of the drug. You simply trust that the prescribing doctor and pharmacy have done their jobs accurately. However, prescription medication errors can and do occur. Sometimes, the consequences are mild or even unnoticeable. Other times, the medication mistake results in significant patient harm or even death.

Why Do Prescription Drug Mistakes Occur?

The medical advances our society has experienced in the last hundred years are nothing short of miraculous. Diseases that used to kill a person are now curable with a simple injection or pill. Unfortunately, mistakes made in the prescription and administration of medications often lead to avoidable patient suffering and worsened medical conditions. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.3 million people are injured by medication errors every year in the U.S.

A study published in BMC Clinical Pharmacology analyzed prescription medication errors at 41 different inpatient units. Of the over 400 prescription medications evaluated, approximately 24 percent of the prescriptions contained illegible information about drug names, doses, or instructions. Just under 30 percent of the prescriptions were incomplete. Issues with legibility and communication are two of the main causes of medication errors. Another study evaluated the causes of medication administration mistakes in hospitals. The study found that inaccurate administration was caused by:

  • Inadequate written instructions
  • Pharmacy dispensing errors
  • High workload and stress
  • Distractions during medication administration
  • Intentional acts

Tips to Protect Yourself from Medication Errors

Medication errors can lead to serious and even deadly adverse drug reactions. It is important to take steps to minimize the chances of falling victim to a prescription medication error. Keep track of the medications that you take and share the list of medications with your doctor and the pharmacy. Confirm the drug name, dosage, administration technique, and other drug-related information with your doctor. Ensure that the prescription and the label of the bottle match the doctor’s instructions. When you go to pick up your prescription, open the bag at the counter and ensure that you have received the correct medication. Ask the pharmacist any questions that you have about potential drug interactions, allergies, and side effects.

Contact a Lake County Medication Errors Attorney

If you were harmed because of a prescription medication error, you may be able to hold the at-fault party accountable and recover damages through a medical malpractice claim. To learn more, contact a Waukegan medical malpractice attorney at Salvi & Maher, L.L.C. Call 847-662-3303 for a free consultation.







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