Nurses On Last Line of Defense in Catching Medication Errors

Nurses and Medication ErrorsThe Chicago medical malpractice attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC frequently handle cases involving complications that have arisen due to medication errors. While the causes for these errors can vary greatly, one thing remains consistent— nurses are always going to be the last line of defense between an incorrect medication or dosage and the administration of that medication to the patient. Whenever a nurse fails to ensure that a patient is receiving the exact medication and dosage that he or she should be receiving, the incorrect administration of medication occurs, resulting in the potential for serious complications that could be life threatening.

Understanding How Medication Errors Occur Can Help Prevent Them

When a patient is given the wrong medication or an incorrect dosage, the error needs to be traced back to where things initially went wrong. In order for a patient to receive medicine, a doctor must first write a prescription for the medication and indicate a dose and method of administration. This includes how frequently the medication must be provided, at what time during the day and which route it needs to be provided by. The next step is the fulfillment of the prescription by a pharmacist, who reviews the instructions provided by the doctor and then provides the medication in the correct dose.

Finally, a nurse is responsible for administrating the medicine. Prior to doing so, he or she must ensure that the medication is being given to the right patient, that the dosage and medication are correct, that the drug is being administered via the correct route and that it is being given at the right frequency and time. Regardless of whether the doctor made an error writing the prescription or whether the pharmacist filled it improperly, the nurse has the final opportunity to ensure that everything is correct prior to actually delivering the medication.

Estimating the Frequency of Medication Errors

Most medication errors go unreported because they may not cause severe complications or harm the patient. For this reason alone, it is difficult to determine the exact rate of medication errors in hospitals and nursing care facilities. It is estimated, however, that an error occurs for one out of every five doses given to patients in facilities across the country. About 1.3 million patients suffer notable complications and the errors result in the deaths of 7,000 people per year.

Some of the causes of these errors originate with the doctor or pharmacist, but nurses who are in a hurry or frustrated by the late delivery of medications can be prone to commit more errors or fail to notice that something is wrong. Nurses are required to tend to the needs of numerous patients— often in a short time frame— and when multiple patients are waiting for their medications or require assistance, it can be extremely frustrating. This too can have an impact on the frequency of medication errors, but it still doesn’t excuse the attending nurse or facility from any liability when a medication error results in an injury to a patient.

Know Your Rights

If you or a loved one suffered an injury due to a medication error, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can answer any questions that you have about your rights and whether you can pursue compensation from the staff member or facility responsible for your injuries. Contact us today to arrange a free consultation with one of our award winning Chicago medical malpractice lawyers so that we can collect the information we need to investigate your claim and review your legal options with you in a setting you are comfortable with. If we are unable to assist you in recovering financial compensation, our services will not cost you a thing.