Fighting for Victims Harmed by Medication Errors
When a physician or other qualified healthcare provider writes a prescription for you, the last thing you want is to worry about whether he or she ordered the wrong medicine or incorrect dose to treat your condition. Unfortunately, this happens more often than you might think in this country. With over 10,000 prescription medications on the market, and close to one-third of adults in the United States taking at least five medications, it should come as no surprise that over 1.5 million people are injured each year because of medication errors.
Medication errors are grouped into four categories, including the following:
- Knowledge-based errors: These errors should be avoidable if the physician is well-informed about the patient’s medical history, the condition being treated, and the benefits and risks of the drug being prescribed. An example of a knowledge-based error is when a doctor prescribes a medication, like penicillin, to a patient who is allergic.
- Rule-based errors: These occur when a healthcare provider follows a bad rule or does not properly carry out a good rule, such as if a doctor injects a drug into the thigh when it is supposed to be injected into the buttock.
- Action-based errors: Also referred to as slips, these are characterized by slips in attention, and can be prevented or minimized using medical checklists, fail-safe systems, and computerized reminders. An example would be grabbing a bottle of diazepam, instead of the intended bottle of diltiazem.
- Memory-based errors: These are more difficult to avoid because they are examples of human error. However, cross-checking and the use of computerized prescribing systems can help prevent many of them. An example would be prescribing a drug like penicillin and forgetting that the patient is allergic.
Examples of Medication Errors
A medication error occurs when failure in the treatment process either harms or has the potential to harm a patient. These mistakes can occur because of poor communication or if the product name, medical abbreviation, or directions for dosing are unclear. The following are common types of medications errors:
- Choosing the wrong medicine, prescribing a medication that is ineffective, or under/over-prescribing a medication
- Prescription errors caused by miscommunication or illegible handwriting
- Formulation errors involving the wrong strength, contaminant, or misleading packaging
- Dispensing errors occur when the healthcare provider dispenses the wrong drug, the wrong formulation, or the wrong label
- Labeling errors that include dosing, frequency, and duration of the medication
- Monitoring errors that include failure to monitor the patient’s condition or to alter the therapy, if necessary
Medical errors are not always reported by the individual who made the mistake. The fear of disciplinary action, or a medical malpractice lawsuit prevent many doctors from reporting certain mistakes. Doctors may be more likely to report medication errors if there was more of a blame-free environment. If physicians are encouraged to report errors by using a reporting system that provides detailed information, they may be able to reduce the incidence of common errors.
How to Prevent Medication Errors
The following can reduce the number of medication errors and improve prescribing habits:
- Ongoing education to help physicians and other healthcare providers stay current on medications, interactions, side effects, etc.
- Graduates and undergraduates should take special study modules as required.
- Proper assessments to be taken as frequently as necessary. This may be a requirement to be licensed to prescribe.
- A national prescription form for hospitals, which can be used as part of a training program.
- Guidelines and computerized prescribing systems
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Medication Errors
If your healthcare provider prescribed a medication that was incorrect, and it had a negative impact on your health, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will carefully review your case and determine whether the error was negligent in nature. Our dedicated team is committed to protecting your rights and securing the maximum financial compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent medical malpractice victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.