As Maryland Medication Error Injury Attorneys, we have recently read data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stating that in the United States, 1.3 million people are injured by medication errors every year, with at least one death reported every day.
According to the National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention, (NCCMERP), injury from medication error is an urgent, a widespread public problem, that needs to receive far more public attention. The NCCMERP estimates that 98,000 people die annually from medical errors that occur in hospitals—an amount that is greater than deaths from motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer, AIDS, even workplace injuries. Medication error can happen at any point, and result in injury—from communication, distribution, prescribing, dispensing, administering or monitoring.
A medication error is defined by the the NCCMERP as any event that is preventable, and may cause medication misusage or patient harm while the medication is being controlled by the health care professional, consumer or patient. Medication errors can happen in professional practices and during procedures, as well as in the systems of prescribing, ordering, the labeling of a product, packaging, dispensing, education, monitoring, usage, and naming conventions.
The FDA states that common causes of medication error stem from poor communication between doctor, pharmacist, and patient, with unclear product names or suffixes, medical abbreviations or handwriting, poor techniques or procedures, or a lack of understanding of directions for patient usage. Job stress or lack of training or knowledge can also lead or contribute to pharmacy error injury or misfills.
In a post from last month, our attorneys at Lebowitz and Mzhen discussed the importance of getting to know your pharmacist, as a study by the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) revealed that next to doctors, pharmacists are the second most trusted health care providers and trained medication experts in this country. Our lawyers stressed that patients should receive clear instructions from the pharmacist on how and when to take their medication, the correct dosage/suffix for the drug, potential side effects, and how the medication will interact with other medications and supplements—to prevent medication error or injury.
National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention, (NCCMERP): Consumer Information for Safe Medication Use
U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Medication Error Reports
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