Medication error rates in hospitals and nursing home facilities have become a serious health and safety concern in the United States. Current studies have suggested that these errors occur at an alarming rate – at least once per day. The driving factor that influences such errors could be the sheer quantity of medications being prescribed or administered on a daily basis to patients.
On average, patients are prescribed anywhere from nine to 10 prescriptions, which increases the likelihood that one of those will be administered incorrectly or interact with another that the patient is already taking. The solution to this entire dilemma, as it would seem, is to limit the amount of medications prescribed to patients during their hospital stay, as well as constantly re-evaluating whether patients should continue taking such medications after their discharge.
Fewer Medications Increases Benefits and Decreases Risks
To some, it may seem like it is irresponsible of a treating physician to take patients off of their medications – especially those they take regularly. But more professionals are seeing the benefits of such actions, and a significant decrease in risks. There are some medications that are part of a physician’s “never stop” list, such as those that regulate blood glucose or blood pressure. There are others, however, that can easily be assessed during a hospital stay. The physician can then decide if the patient truly needs such medications while there. Some benefits to eliminating these unnecessary medications include:
- Fewer medications equates fewer risks of drug errors or dangerous interactions. Studies have shown that the incident rates will increase for patients who are placed on more medications.
- Some medications that patients are on could be inappropriate or interact with the medications needed during their hospital stay. Therefore, it is beneficial to temporary stop or permanently cease those medications altogether.
- After evaluating patients’ medications, it could actually improve their quality of life. This is especially so when a physician identifies medications that a patient no longer needs or those that can cause side-effects when taken in excess.
Determining the Right Medications to Administer
While there are some experts who agree that cessation of medications during a stay will thwart errors, there are some who are more concerned about stopping necessary medications just to reduce risks. For most physicians, the rule of thumb is that any medication taken at home should be discontinued unless the patient has a justifiable reason for continuing to take them.
Once the administration of medicines has been stopped, a physician can then better assess which medications are needed based on the patient’s overall condition. If the patient reacts favorably to the missing medications, a physician is likely to cease those medications altogether at discharge. If, however, the patient does not react well, the physician is more likely to return the patient to the medications upon discharge.
Did Your Hospital Stay End in an Injury?
If your recent hospital stay resulted in overdoses of medications or a dangerous interaction, you could be entitled to compensation. Physicians need to be more proactive with how they take care of their patients and how medications are administered during patients’ stays. Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation. Call (203) 487-5716 or contact us online to get started.