Medication Errors

Medication Error Lawyers

Medication errors continue to occur at an alarming rate and impact all patient demographics. Usually, when the medication error occurs during an admission to a nursing home or hospital, the errors result from physicians prescribing the wrong medication or wrong dosage or a staff member at the facility making an error in the drug’s administration.

The National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention defines a medication error as

any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient, or consumer…related to professional practice, health care products, procedures, and systems, including prescribing; order communication; product labeling, packaging, and nomenclature; compounding; dispensing; distribution; administration; education; monitoring; and use.

After discovery of a medication error that results in patient injury or death, it is important to trace the error to its source, as the laws that apply to different circumstances (physician or facility staff) may significantly impact the outcome.

How Prevalent are Medication Errors at Medical Facilities?

As the number of medications (both over the counter and prescription) continues to grow and as the number of people taking medications expands, the opportunity for errors grows exponentially.  Statistically speaking, many of us are far more likely to suffer an injury related to a medication error as opposed to other types of frequent accidents. One of the most respected, large-scale studies to address medication errors, authored by the Institute of Medicine revealed some concerning findings for individuals both at home and under the care of medical facilities. Amongst the studies findings:

  • 98,000 people die annually due to preventable medication errors
  • 380,00 adverse drug events occur on an annual basis
  • 800,000 adverse drug events (ADE’s) occur every year at long-term care facilities
  • ADE’s result in more than $3.5 billion in medical costs

When Medication Errors are Made at a Nursing Home or Hospital, We Commonly Find They Originate in the Following Problems:

  • Physicians failing to take complete medical histories of patients
  • Physicians writing sloppy medication orders — failing to articulate how the drug is to be administered
  • Failing to account for patient allergies, weight or other medications
  • Mislabeling medications
  • Failing to note patient reaction to medications

Many of these errors can be prevented through the use of computerized monitoring systems. According to the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality, up to 95% of ADE can be prevented by using computerized monitoring to reduce medication errors.

Signs Of A Possible ADE

When a person is having an adverse reaction to a medication, it is important that at the first sign of a problem that they receive medical attention. Medication errors that happen in a hospital or nursing home are compounded when the nursing or medical staff does not react quickly to signs that the patient has been given the wrong medication, is having an allergic reaction or overdosing. Some identifiers that a patient may be having an ADE are:

  • Rash
  • Change in respiratory or heart rate
  • Change in mental state
  • Issues with hearing or vision
  • Seizures
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever

Unfortunately, due to under-staffing, insufficient training or lax policies, many medication errors may be overlooked or misdiagnosed. If the medication continues to be administered despite an adverse reaction, the consequences for the patient can be deadly. In a study at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston showed that 9.7% of non-operative ADE’s in their research caused permanent disability.

  • Physicians failing to take complete medical histories of patients
  • Physicians writing sloppy medication orders — failing to articulate how the drug is to be administered
  • Failing to account for patient allergies
  • Mislabeling medications
  • Failing to note patient reaction to medications

Medication Mistake Attorneys in Chicago

Sometimes there may be multiple reasons why a medication error occurred. The Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers will investigate all potential claims and will keep you advised of your potential legal rights. In order to begin the investigative process, please fill out our contact form or call our office to speak to a lawyer immediately.

Related materials from Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers:

  • Chicago Family Files Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Following Hospital’s Deadly Medication Error Involving Infant
  • Medication Errors To Blame For Death Of Nursing Home Patient
  • Nursing Home Cited For Neglect After Failing To Give Rehab Patient Necessary Medication
  • Poorly Monitored Medications May Put Children At Risk For Developing Stevens Johnson Syndrome