Historians are used as references for numerous things – from weather to disasters to political issues and more. But, what you may not realize is their significance in the medical industry – more specifically for drug interactions. Medication historians are not just scientists; they are artists. They interview patients about the medications they are taking and try to figure out all of the medications currently being taken by the patient, as well as any those that have been taken prior to admission to a hospital. That information is then updated in the chart for nurses and physicians.
While the process seems simple, a recent article in Sioux City Journal highlighted just how difficult the job can be. Patients often are not aware of the medications they are taking, or even those they have taken in the past – especially if you ask about over-the-counter medications (OTCs). Even if they are aware of the names of medications, they cannot specify the dates, dosage, or frequency at which those medications were taken. Instead, it requires the medication historian to call primary care providers, specialists in the patient’s medical records, pharmacies, and other caretakers to order and compile an accurate list.
There are numerous formulations of medications, but they can be listed under the same name. If a patient tells a historian the particular name of a medication, the historian will need to decipher which formulation was actually taken – and most patients do not know. In fact, most patients don’t know more than the color and/or size of the pill taken.
The idea of medication historians is a great one. It ensures that patients receive new medications that will not interact with those they are currently taking – but not all hospitals are proactive in preventing harmful side-effects and interactions. While some hospitals employ these experts, there are dozens more than don’t. Instead, they rely on nurses to take a more accurate history, and nurses have burdening caseloads; therefore, they don’t have the time to track down proper records and verify information.
Studies show that there are more than 400,000 preventable drug-related injuries that occur in hospitals each year. There are another 800,000 in long-term care facilities and 530,000 occurring in the outpatient setting. Each year, there is an estimated $3.5 billion spent treating these problems. So, it is a surprise that more hospitals are not employing historians to reduce dangerous interactions – and ultimately, their liability.
If you have been injured because of a dangerous drug interaction that was preventable, you could be entitled to compensation. You will need to speak with an attorney first to have your case examined. An attorney will determine which party is at-fault for your interaction – your prescribing physician, intake staff at the treating hospital, a pharmacist, etc. Then, your attorney can pursue a claim for damages.
If you or a loved one has suffered from an injury due to medical negligence – including a preventable drug interaction – contact a medical malpractice attorney right away. Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation. Call us or contact us online to get started.