Preventing medication errors

Medication errors are a serious problem in North Carolina. With over 20,000 drugs in the American pharmacopeia, it’s easy to see how mistakes can occur. These errors can cause serious injuries. In an average year, about 8,000 Americans will die because of mistakes made when dispensing drugs. It’s important to take any steps necessary to prevent these tragedies.

Causes of medication errors

There are many steps between a provider prescribing a medication and the patient taking it. Errors in judgment by a physician can be one cause of errors. Communication errors, like transcribing the wrong medication name, are another source of problems. Ideally, prescribers and pharmacists should check prescriptions before giving them to patients. In most U.S. pharmacies, pharmacists counsel patients when they pick their meds up. But sometimes, the pharmacist can rush or accidentally skip this counseling.

What steps can be taken to prevent errors?

Preventing medication errors requires excellent communication and lots of attention to detail. Prescribers must take a thorough history, including other medications and supplements the patient uses. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians must ensure that they’re filling the order with unexpired medication of the right dose and for the proper duration. Finally, they must make sure that they hand the meds to the right person.

Health care facilities are implementing more structure to help prescribers minimize errors. They ask providers to prescribe at the same time every shift. During that time, other hospital workers know not to interrupt them. Providing a time and place when doctors can focus on prescribing helps them to feel less rushed. They can also review their notes as needed during that time.

Anyone who suffers an injury due to a medication error could benefit from contacting an attorney. This kind of error can be medical malpractice. Based on their injuries, patients may be able to collect damages.

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