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How Common Are Medication Errors?

While it can be difficult to determine the exact rates of medication errors, since 1992 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have received over 30,000 reports of medication errors. It’s important to recognize that these are voluntary reports, so it’s likely the true number of medication errors is significantly higher.

The FDA has also concluded that 41 percent of fatal medication errors are related to the administration of an improper dose of medicine. 16 percent of the errors are caused by giving the wrong drug or using the wrong administration route. Nearly 50 percent of fatal medication errors happen to individuals over the age of 60. Elderly individuals are at a greater risk for medication error because they are often on more medications than younger people.

Additional medication errors include mislabeling a medication, prescribing a patient a medication they are allergic to, prescribing a patient a medication that interacts negatively with another medication they’re taking, and failing to warn a patient of the common side effects of a medication.

In the unfortunate event you are a victim of a medication error, it’s important to understand why these errors happen, what affects you may face, and what your legal rights are.

Why Medication Errors Happen

There is never an excuse for a medication error; however, there are identifying factors that can help us understand why they happen. The following list includes the most common reasons patients suffer from medication errors.

  • A lack of therapeutic training
  • Inadequate drug knowledge and experience
  • Inadequate knowledge of the patient
  • Inadequate perception of the risk of drug interactions or common side effects
  • Overworked or fatigued healthcare professionals
  • Physical and emotional health issues
  • Poor communication between healthcare professionals and patients
  • Lack of standardized protocols and procedures
  • Workload and time pressures
  • Distractions and interruptions
  • Insufficient resources
  • Lack of accuracy of patient records

The implications of these errors can be life-altering for some patients.

The Effects of Medication Errors

In the event of a medication error, a patient may experience adverse drug reactions and drug to drug interactions that can lead to new or worsened conditions, headaches, rashes, nausea and vomiting, and a decreased quality of life. In severe cases, a medication error can take a patient’s life.

If you’ve been injured as a result of a medication error, you may have the grounds to file a negligence claim. The health care professional or facility responsible for your injury should be held accountable for their negligence. Our Columbia, SC medication error lawyers are prepared to represent you.

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