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What Are Common Medication Errors?

Female doctor hand holding blurred medical bottle and writing prescription form to patient at hospital or clinic. Pharmaceutical care, pain management and healthcare concept. Selective focus.

Many malpractice cases arise because a healthcare professional made a mistake with regard to a patient’s medication at some point between prescription and distribution. Continue reading to learn about common medication errors, and contact a qualified medical expert with any additional questions or for help with a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Failing to Account for Patient History, Drug Interactions

Medications are not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Patients may have allergic reactions to certain medications which can limit their effectiveness or even create health hazards in their own right. Likewise, different medications may negatively interact with one another. A physician who prescribes a medication must account for a patient’s history and other medication in order to avoid causing harm.

Prescribing the Wrong Drug

Physicians may simply prescribe the wrong drug to treat a given ailment. More commonly, an error is introduced in the transcription process–someone writes down the wrong medication in the chart after mishearing the doctor, a chart includes a typographical error, a member of the staff misreads a physician’s handwriting, or a staff member clicks the wrong medication from a drop-down menu after typing in the first few letters of the drug. In any case, prescribing the wrong drug can have dangerous consequences on top of being ineffective for the patient’s ailment.

Prescribing the Wrong Dosage

Like prescribing the wrong medication, prescribing the wrong dosage for a medication can be dangerous and even fatal. A decimal point may be included in the wrong place or a doctor’s handwriting may be hard to read, leading to an erroneous prescription. A pharmacist may include the wrong dosage before doling out the drug to a patient. Taking 50mg instead of 5mg can be a deadly error.

Administering the Wrong Drug or Dosage

Medication errors can be introduced at the pharmacy or distribution level as well as at the prescribing phase. In a hospital or nursing home, pharmacists, nurses and other staff are responsible for giving patients their medication. Commonly, patients are given the wrong medication or the wrong dosage by mistake.

Missing a Dose

Many medications must be taken daily or multiple times a day, often at the same time each day, to be effective. Patients at nursing homes and other facilities depend on staff to administer their medication at the appropriate time. If patients miss several doses because nursing home or hospital staff acted carelessly, their health may suffer as a result.

Improper Administration

Proper dosage and timing are not all that matters. Some drugs must be ingested in a certain manner. Taking a drug orally that should be administered intravenously, or vice versa, can have catastrophic consequences.

If you need a qualified, effective expert witness in a medical malpractice, personal injury, or product liability case, contact the offices of Neurosurgery Medlegal Services, LLC, at 866-659-8051.

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