The FDA reports the most common errors from a study period conducted between 1993 and 1998 are dosage mistakes, accounting for 41% of all fatal medication mistakes. Giving the wrong drug and using the wrong method of administration accounted for another 16% each.
Who is Responsible for Medication Errors?
Medication errors are often the result of nursing errors. Sometimes illegible handwriting plays a role in these mistakes but hospitals and their nursing staffs are responsible for ensuring that they are certain that the medication they administer is the correct medication ordered. Moreover, mistakes that stem from such problems like sloppy handwriting are easily remedied through proper training, technology and standardized procedures. Mistakes like these could easily be avoided, if hospitals are willing to make the effort to address the problem.
How Can You Protect Yourself From Medication Errors?
You may not be able to protect yourself, particularly if you are incapacitated by your health problems. But if you or a family member is aware of the risk, you can insist that your doctor clearly explains to you what drugs you are supposed to have, the proper dosage and the method of administration. Then double check with your nurses to be sure they are following the doctor's orders.
Doctors Make Medication Errors, Too.
Not all medication errors are nursing staff errors. Sometimes, doctors simply order the wrong medication, fail to recognize the need for a medication or overlook contraindications, like allergies.
Heparin is a medication that is frequently prescribed incorrectly. Heparin is a drug that helps to prevent the formation of dangerous blood clots. It is often used following surgery, particularly cardiac surgery. If not used, it can lead to the development of dangerous blood clots, perhaps causing an embolism or stroke. If overprescribed, the patient can suffer from life threatening bleeding.