When we aren’t feeling well or have incurred an injury, we make an appointment with a doctor for examination and treatment. It’s natural to trust the diagnosis and any medications that are prescribed; however, medication errors do happen, and they are on the rise. A recent study conducted at Mass General, the nation’s leading hospital in patient safety, found that medication mistakes occurred in nearly half of all surgical procedures. Medication errors include being prescribed the incorrect medication, being given an improper dose, or not being prescribed a drug that is necessary to maintain stable vital signs and support healing and recovery. Medication dispensing errors can also occur when prescription orders are filled at your local pharmacy. In the United States, 1 out of every 100 prescriptions filled contains a dispensing error.
Medication errors can have serious results for patients and their families. When you are given a drug that hasn’t been prescribed to you, injury in the form of an allergic reaction can occur, as well as dangerous interactions with any other medications that have been prescribed. An improper dose of a needed medication can result in inappropriate treatment of a chronic disease, leaving patients at increased risk for complications of the disease itself, or injury from overdose. For families of these patients, medication errors result in repeated or prolonged hospital stays and loss of work, increasing the financial burden of health care. In the most profound incidents, patients have suffered permanent disability requiring a life of specialized care, loss of pregnancy, or even death from medication dispensing errors.
To protect yourself from medication dispensing errors, be sure to fill all of your prescriptions at a single pharmacy, and look at the medication when you pick up your prescriptions to ensure that your medications look the same. Read all the labels on your drugs, and ask the pharmacist about anything that has changed. Avoid refilling medications or filling new prescriptions at the beginning of the month when pension checks are issued and pharmacies are busier. The increased demand on the pharmacy staff and a greater number of drugs awaiting pickup increases the chance for errors. To reduce the risk of medication dispensing errors in a hospital setting, keep a list of prescribed medications and doses available for your family, and ask clinical staff to give you the name of each medication as it is given.
If you or someone you love has been injured by a medication dispensing error, it is important to consult with an attorney to explore what legal recourse may be available to you. The caring professionals at Atkinson Petruska Kozma Hart & Couture are ready to meet with you help bring about the best outcome for you and your family. Call today to schedule a personal consultation – 1.877.732.2491.