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Medication Errors Are on the Rise: What You Need to Know

Written by Berkowitz

green and blue medicationsOver the past decade, the United States has seen great improvements in procedures, medical treatments and even technologies. However, there are some aspects of the medical industry that have started to decline. Hospital pharmacies and their ability to fill prescriptions accurately have been one of the areas suffering – and definitely something that must be improved before the number of errors and deaths increases.

5 Facts to Know About Medication Errors

The increase in medication errors is unfortunately unknown to most consumers, but shouldn’t be. If you fill prescriptions at a local pharmacy or even receive medication while in the hospital, there are some things you need to be aware of, including:

  1. Medication Errors are Increasing – According to a study in September 2015 by the American Journal of Health-Systems Pharmacy, the number of medication errors has increased in relation to the number of orders that are verified by a pharmacist per work shift. When more than 400 orders are verified, the risk for error increases exponentially.
  2. Cutting Back on Prescriptions Could be the Answer – The biggest reason for an increase in medication errors is the quantity of medications being prescribed by physicians today. Hospital patients are estimated to receive anywhere from nine to 10 medications per visit. Limiting those medication amounts could possibly reduce the number of hospital and pharmacy errors as a whole.
  3. Medication Errors are Expensive and Could be Fatal – Another study conducted in 2006 found that medication errors are not just harmful, but expensive too. These errors injure more than 1.5 million Americans each year and they also cost the United States $3.5 billion in additional medical expenses, lost wages and productivity. Critical care patients are more likely to receive the wrong medication and 20 percent of those errors were life-threatening while 42 percent of those patients required additional life-sustaining treatments because of the error.
  4. The 5 Rights Rule is Being Ignored – To regulate the industry, pharmacists do have the 5 Rights that they are supposed to follow when dispensing medication, which includes: the right patient, right drug, right dose, right route and right time. Medication errors could be reduced if pharmacists and their staff followed these 5 Rights.
  5. Patient Knowledge Is Important Too – Often patients have no idea what prescriptions they are filling or even how to take the medication. When prescribed medication, patients should get instructions from the physician, verify the same instructions are on the prescription and then verify that when they receive the medication, it is correct. If a patient is unsure, they can use the Drug.com Pill Identifier to find what medication they are taking or even do research about the medication prescribed to ensure they were given the right medication for their ailment.

Injured by a Pharmacy Error? Contact an Attorney

If you were injured by a medication error in the hospital, by your physician or because of the pharmacist, you need to contact a medical malpractice attorney. Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today to schedule a no obligation case evaluation. Call us or contact us online to get started.