When your doctor prescribes medication for you, you just assume that it’s the correct drug and proper dosage and formulation. But that is not always true. Mistakes can be made. Those errors can hurt you, maybe seriously. Even worse, you may not be aware of the mistake until you have already taken the medication and suffered harm in some way.
These kinds of medication foul-ups are not isolated instances. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), gets over 100,000 complaints annually about such errors. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) states that medication mistakes affect as many as ten percent of patients in hospitals.
Typical examples of medication errors
There are more kinds of medication errors than you might realize. They include the following:
- Ignoring a patient’s medical conditions that like being allergic to a medication
- Not paying attention to interactions with other prescription medicines or over-the-counter preparations that a patient takes
- Mix-ups when people get medication intended for other patients
- Medication that is prescribed or dispensed improperly
- Incorrect dosing instructions
- The medication was prescribed prematurely or was delayed too long
Impact on patients from medication blunders
The results of medication errors can range all the way from minor complications to death. In fact, there are 7,000 to 9,000 deaths each year in this country caused by medication mistakes, according to the NCBI.
How can the incidence of medication errors be decreased?
Improved technology can help reduce the number of medication mistakes, which can often be attributed to human error. Using electronic medical records boosts accuracy by flagging interactions between drugs, for example.
If you were harmed by a medication mistake
If a medical professional did not use adequate care in any aspect of your medication, such as preparing it or telling you the correct dosage, there may be steps you can take to address that situation.