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What are the causes behind prescription drug errors?

On Behalf of | Jan 22, 2022 | Medical Malpractice

While cancer and heart disease currently lead the fatalities of average Americans, the potential third place cause of deaths might surprise some people. A study by Johns Hopkins Medicine that combed over hospital records from 2016 discovered that medical errors could serve as this third highest cause of death.

In particular, prescription errors cause thousands of deaths a year. But how do these errors happen in the first place?

Preventable mistakes

The Southern Maryland Chronicle discusses medication errors. Some of the most common involve either getting the wrong prescription, or having a dosage that is either too high or too low for a patient’s personal safety.

Another preventable and common mistake involves doctors prescribing medication that the patient should not take in tandem with other medications they may currently already have. Doctors may also fail to provide all necessary health advice, resulting in a victim taking prescription drugs with over the counter drugs that then have a bad reaction.

Many of these issues occur due to errors at a nursing or physician level. However, in some cases, the mistakes may happen at the pharmacy as well.

The source of errors

Medical staff that is under stress and overworked have a higher chance of making these mistakes. Other potential sources can include information mix-ups, in which medical records do not contain crucial information such as other medications a patient may currently take. Lack of communication between medical staff may also contribute, such as nurses not listening to doctors, doctors not listening to patients or pharmacists misreading prescribed medicine.

Finally, lax oversight can cause these issues. Hospitals must implement and enforce quality control, as mistakes will always happen more frequently in a setting without such protocols in place.

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