QJM: How to Prevent Medication Errors and Injury with Balanced Prescribing

As Maryland Medication Mistake Attorneys we have recently read an article published in the QJM, the long-established leading general medical journal, on the topic of medication errors—giving an overview of what medication mistakes are, how they happen, and how to prevent them from happening in the future.

According to the article, published in August 2009, a medication error is a failure in the process of treatment that can lead to the harming or personal injury of a patient. Medication errors can often occur in:

• Prescribing faults: ineffective prescribing, irrational or inappropriate prescribing, under-prescribing and over-prescribing when deciding which treatment and dosage plan to take.

• Prescription writing: illegibility
• Formulation manufacturing: incorrect strength, misleading packaging
• Drug formulation dispensing: incorrect drug, formulation and label
• Administering the medicine: incorrect dosage, wrong directions for frequency, invalid duration of treatment
• Monitoring drug therapy treatment and drug treatment alteration when required

Medication errors can be classified, according to the article, by the use of psychological error classifications—knowledge-errors, rule-errors, action-errors, and memory-based errors. It is important to detect the medication mistakes, that can range from trivial to serious, and to create a working environment that is free of blame, and encourages the reporting of errors.

The article also recommends, “balanced prescribing” to avoid medication errors. In balanced prescribing, the mechanism of action of the drug should complement the pathophysiology of the disease—optimizing the balance of benefit to harm.

In a previous post our medication error attorneys suggested a few more steps to help you protect your health and reduce the risk of Maryland medication error injuries, such as always checking the prescription label carefully to verify the name of the medication, checking your refill medication for inconsistencies, developing a relationship with your pharmacist, always requesting written dosage instructions from your doctor and pharmacist to make sure that you understand the drug instructions before leaving the pharmacy, and always carrying a list of your current medications to give to your doctor and pharmacist before taking any new medication to avoid pharmacy misfill injury.

If you or someone you know has been injured by a medication mistake or pharmacy misfill in Maryland or the Washington, D.C. area, contact the attorneys at Lebowitz and Mzhen, LLC for a free consultation. Call us today at 1-800-654-1949.

Medication Errors: What They Are, How They Happen, and How to Avoid Them, QJM: Oxford University Press, August 2009

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Medication Error Reports

American Hospital Association, (AHA)

National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention, (NCCMERP)

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