errors are much more prevalent in U.S. hospitals than Americans
think. In December, 2002, Medmarx, the anonymous national
reporting database operated by U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), issued
a report finding that administering drugs using incorrect
techniques continues to be a serious cause of injury to hospital
patients, increasing costs to insurers. This third annual
report is one of the most comprehensive accumulations of data
available. It reports on 105,603 medication errors which were
voluntarily reported by 368 facilities nationwide.
errors are not just limited to overdosing patients on their
prescribed medications. Such errors also occur in the administration
of the wrong medications, the failure to timely give the appropriate
dose of the ordered medicines, the improper calculation of
the correctly ordered dose of medicine, or the failure to
order the proper medicines under the circumstances. Many medication
errors fortunately do not result in any long term harm to
the patient. Others can lead to immediate injury and death.
According to Medmarx,
2.4% of the total errors resulted in patient injury. Of this
number, 353 errors required initial or prolonged hospitalization
and 70 required life-sustaining intervention. 14 resulted
in death. Virtually all of these types of medication errors
are avoidable. However, in todays healthcare environment,
hospital CEOs have more incentive to be worried about
the bottom line than they do about spending money on safety.
They would rather buy a piece of expensive equipment which
will attract new patients and new revenues than spend their
tight budgets on computer hardware and software currently
available to help prevent these errors.
2001 data report indicates that healthcare facilities attribute
medication errors to many causes such as distraction (47%),
workload increases (24%), and staffing (36%). More than 58
% of errors in the emergency department could be attributed
to an improper dose, an omission, or a prescribing error.
Heparin, a blood thinner used to treat and prevent blood clots,
received the most reports of improper dosage.
In addition to
the incidents noted in the Medmarx report, many other errors
occur due to the lack of communication and follow up between
the ordering physician, the hospital pharmacy and the hospital
personnel, like nurses, actually administering the medications.
A recent incident
at one of the local hospitals is illustrative of how this
breakdown can occur. The physician ordered a 1mg dose of a
particular medicine. That handwritten order was initially
properly transcribed in a handwritten form by the pharmacy.
However, when the medicine was filled, the typewritten order
was inadvertently changed to reflect the dosage of the vial
the medicine came in (5mg). The nurse administering the medication
did not check the physicians order against the pharmacy
order and thus improperly administered 5 times more medication
on two occasions than the physician ordered.
If you or someone
you know has been the victim of a potential medication error
call Phillips & Mitchell toll free at 1-866-321-1580 for
a free consultation or
click here for a Free Case
|Case Review | Find An Attorney | FAQ's | Settlements | Statistics | Disclaimer | Contact | Home
The statements and information provided on this web site are for the information of the recipient only. This site is not intended to provide legal advice and no attorney-client relationship should be deemed to arise from the receipt of this page and its associated pages.
Copyright © 2003 MedicalMalpracticeToday.com, All Rights Reserved.