Last Update: 01/25/16
Last month, Forbes Magazine exposed something that the medical community is all too aware, and something that Floridians – particularly South Floridians who have health issues or medical concerns – need to know, too: medicine mistakes are a big cause of serious injury and death to patients in the United States today.
In their article entitled, “The Shocking Truth About Medication Errors,” the national news magazine provides important information for all of us. Forbes reports that medication errors are a very big deal: their investigation revealed that medication errors happen (on average) once a day for every single inpatient.
Once a day, think about that.
Medicine Mistakes or “Medication Errors”
The term you’ll see more likely than not is “medication error” for a medicine mistake or drug mistake that hurts someone when they ingest that chemical (take the pill, get the injection, wear the patch, inhale the fumes, etc.). According to the Mayo Clinic, “medication errors” are defined as:
Medication errors are preventable events that lead to medications being used inappropriately. Medication errors that cause harm are called adverse drug events…. Although medication errors can happen anywhere, including your own home, most occur in doctors’ offices, hospitals and pharmacies. Knowing what you’re up against can help you play it safe.
The most common causes of medication errors are:
- Poor communication between health care providers;
- Poor communication between providers and their patients;
- Sound-alike medication names and medical abbreviations;
- Illegible prescriptions or confusing directions.
The Food and Drug Administration has a more detailed definition of Medication Errors. According to the FDA:
Specifically, a medication error is “any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient, or consumer. Such events may be related to professional practice, health care products, procedures, and systems, including prescribing; order communication; product labeling, packaging, and nomenclature; compounding; dispensing; distribution; administration; education; monitoring; and use.
Medication Errors and Drug Mistakes Cause Serious Injury and Wrongful Death
Despite how common these drug mistakes and medication errors are these days, research shows that patients are rarely aware that a medicine mistake has happened to them. According to a Critical Care Medicine Study, a shocking 98% of these medical mistakes are NOT revealed to the patients or their families.
This is particularly dangerous and troubling when you consider that this research study includes the medicine mistakes and medication errors that happen in Intensive Care Units (6.6%) and no one outside the medical personnel are ever aware that this danger has happened.
Fatal Medication Errors / Medicine Mistakes
Wrong medications are given to patients; a 2006 Institute of Medicine report estimates that medication errors injure 1.5 million Americans every year at a cost of $3.5 billion.
- The most common error involving medications was related to administration of an improper dose of medicine, accounting for 41% of fatal medication errors.
- Giving the wrong drug and using the wrong route of administration each accounted for 16% of the errors.
- Almost half of the fatal medication errors occurred in people over the age of 60.
- Older people may be at greatest risk for medication errors because they often take multiple prescription medications.
What Should You Do Now?
A good piece of advice if you have been harmed by a medication error, is to at least speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.
- Doctor’s Poor Handwriting Causes Many Serious Medication Errors and Drug Mistakes – Fatal ADEs From Doctor’s Scrawl
- Electronic Health Records Promoted as Way of Reducing Medical Errors, But Studies Show EHRs Can Increase Medication Errors and Medical Mistakes
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.