Prescription medication is a crucial aspect of healthcare, but medication errors continue to pose a major challenge in the United States. Sadly, the trend is increasing rather than decreasing. A study by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine revealed that no less than 1.5 million people fall victim to medication errors yearly. The consequences can be serious, even fatal, and they can occur at any point during the prescribing, dispensing, or administration of medications, which makes it a major safety issue. As healthcare consumers, it is critical to understand the root causes of medication errors and educate ourselves on preventative measures. By doing so, we can promote greater awareness and work collaboratively with healthcare providers to improve patient safety.


Definition and Types of Medication Errors


The National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention has estimated that medication errors are a significant issue in the United States, affecting millions of patients each year. As defined by the council, a medication error is any preventable event that may cause harm to the patient through inappropriate use of medication. Different types of medication errors can occur during any stage of the medication use process, including prescribing, dispensing, administration, and monitoring. With nearly 6,800 prescription medications available, navigating the world of pharmaceuticals can be complicated and overwhelming. It is crucial to address these potential errors and take steps to minimize them to protect the health and well-being of patients.


Impact of Medication Errors


Medication errors not only have a significant financial impact but also result in physical and psychological suffering for patients. The cost of caring for patients affected by medication errors exceeds a staggering $40 billion annually. Patients experience unnecessary pain and suffering as a result of these errors, which can extend beyond physical consequences and negatively impact mental well-being. However, it is not just the patients who suffer; healthcare providers also experience consequences, such as decreased patient satisfaction and a lack of trust in the system. These adverse effects demonstrate the importance of implementing targeted interventions to reduce medication errors and improve patient safety.


What are some common prescription errors I should be mindful of?


One of the primary reasons for medication errors is a lack of knowledge on the part of healthcare providers. Prescribers may prescribe a medication that is contraindicated for a particular patient, or they may prescribe an incorrect dose. Pharmacists may dispense or administer the wrong medication or dose via an inappropriate route. Nurses may administer the wrong dose, medication, or via the wrong route. Monitoring inaccuracy or a failure to recognize signs of adverse drug reactions are other potential problems. Lack of adequate communication between providers can also contribute to errors.

How can I reduce my risk of prescription error-related injuries?


Taking an active role in your healthcare can greatly reduce the risk of medication errors. You can avoid potential adverse interactions by informing your pharmacist and doctor of all medications and supplements you are taking. Confirming your medication’s name and dosage with your doctor and pharmacist can also ensure that you are receiving the correct treatment. Don’t be afraid to speak up if something feels wrong or you are unsure why you need a particular medication. Taking your prescriptions exactly as prescribed and being aware of potential side effects can further minimize your risk of harm. To make informed decisions, consult with your healthcare provider and weigh the risks and benefits of each medication. With a proactive approach, you can significantly decrease the likelihood of medication errors and prioritize your health and well-being.

What do I do if a medication mistake causes me harm?


If you have experienced harm as a result of a medication mistake, it is important to act quickly. Reach out to your healthcare provider as soon as possible to discuss any symptoms or side effects you are experiencing. They can help you determine the best course of action and provide you with any necessary medical attention. Additionally, if the mistake has resulted in serious harm, it may be worth exploring your legal options. At Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault, our prescription medication error attorneys understand the importance of seeking compensation for injuries caused by medical errors. We offer free consultations to patients in Ohio and Michigan impacted by medication mistakes. Contact us today at 419-843-663 or through our online contact form.