Medication errors may seem relatively harmless compared to surgical errors or misdiagnosis, but it has lead to serious injury for more than a million Americans every year. According to the website of Crowe & Mulvey, LLP, it can even result in death. Medication errors include the wrong drug being dispensed, the wrong dosage, and conflicting drugs. These errors all sound preventable (because they are), and the key to minimizing medication errors is communication.
Many of the errors made in drug dispensing is due to lack of information. When a patient is first admitted for examination, an extensive medical history is taken because there are drugs that may seem to be the right ones for the condition but have adverse effects under specific circumstances. For example, for a patient complaining of muscle pain, one of the drugs that may be taken for relief is over-the-counter acetaminophen. But if that patient is already taking acetaminophen as part of a prescription drug, then the dosage may exceed safe levels and affect the liver adversely.
A more acute effect is when a patient is given medication that he or she is allergic to, but which either the patient failed to mention or did not know, or the nurse or doctor failed to check in the patient history. A good example is penicillin, to which 10% of the world’s population has an allergic reaction to. One of the protocols in hospitals is to take a skin test to determine if the patient has an allergy to particular medications that may be prescribed.
Health professionals have a duty of care to their patients, and must make every effort to prevent harm. Patients, on the other hand, must provide complete medical information inasmuch as they are aware of it. If there is adequate communication between healthcare professionals and between patients and healthcare providers, medication errors may be minimized.
If you have suffered adverse effects from medication errors caused by negligence or carelessness of a healthcare provider, then you may have recourse for compensation through the civil court. Confer with a medical malpractice lawyer in the area to find out your options.