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Why Medication Errors Happen and How to Avoid Them

medication errorsMany people take medications for ongoing medical conditions as well as to treat one-time events. These medications are intended to help the patient manage the condition.

However, medication errors can occur that cause greater harm to the patient. A medication error can be a devastating experience, especially when you are on different types of medication that interact with one another.

If you or a loved one was injured by a medication error, a Harrisburg medical malpractice lawyer from Schmidt Kramer can help. We provide a free initial legal consultation to discuss your avenues for financial recovery.

Causes of Medication Errors

It is no secret that many nurses and other health care providers are often overworked and tired. They may make mistakes related to medication while they are in a hurry to treat other patients. Medication errors can occur at hospitals, in doctor’s offices, in nursing homes or at other facilities.

Some common causes of medication errors include:

  • Overworked and fatigued medical providers
  • Staff not familiar with the medication
  • Inadequate information about the patient
  • Lack of warnings
  • Miscommunication between health care providers and the patient
  • Poor handwriting
  • Inadequate perception of risk
  • Poor record keeping
  • Alcohol or drug dependence of health care providers

Types of Medication Errors

There are a variety of medication error types, ranging from when the medication is first prescribed to how they are prescribed. Some forms of medication errors include:

  • Prescribing errors – Doctors may prescribe the wrong medication to treat a problem, a medication that has dangerous side effects or one that is known to react badly with another medication.
  • Administering errors – Another type of medication error comes in the form of giving the medication. A health care provider may give a poor injection so that the medication is not delivered to the body properly. A medication may be given intravenously when it should have been given orally. Surgical medication errors can also occur from medications administered via syringes and not labeled properly.  
  • Omitting errors – These errors occur when a health care provider fails to give a medication dose when the next dose is scheduled.
  • Dosage errors – These errors occur when a health care provider administers the wrong dose of a medication or the improper dosage is prescribed.
  • Fragmented care errors – A lack of communication between the prescribing physician and other health care professionals can cause these errors.

Preventing Medication Errors

It is imperative that patients take their health care seriously and take all actions to prevent medication errors. Some ways to prevent medication errors include:

  • Being familiar with your medication – Be familiar with all aspects of a new medication, including its name, whether you are taking a generic form of the medication, how long you need to take it, the dosage, what to do if you miss a dose, and how the medication will interact with alcohol or other medication.
  • Being watchful of health care providers – If you are in a hospital, be sure the nurse checks your admissions bracelet to ensure that you are being prescribed the medication and not another patient. Keep a list of your prescription medications and corresponding information with you at all times so if you are admitted to a medical facility, you can give this information to your provider.
  • Talking through new medications – Take a few minutes to talk with your pharmacist when you are prescribed a new medication. Be sure you are clear on the dosage and the purpose of the medication.
  • Participating in medication reconciliation – Be sure that you are part of the process of comparing the list of medications your health care provider has for you and what you actually take. This can help you avoid negative drug interactions, dosing errors and other potential problems. This process is especially important when you acquire a new health care provider. Be sure all your health care providers are aware of any allergies or that you have had adverse effects with in the past. 

Contact an Attorney Today

Medication errors are far too common and can lead to devastating consequences. If you think that your medication error was preventable and caused by negligent health care staff, contact the skilled Harrisburg personal injury attorneys at Schmidt Kramer.

We can discuss your legal options during a free consultation. We will answer your questions about pursuing a claim and explain if you may be entitled to compensation.

Our firm charges no upfront fees and only get paid if we help you recover compensation, so there is no risk in learning about your options.

Fill out our Free Case Review form today or call us at (717) 888-8888.