The process of receiving medication involves a lot of different moving pieces, and as providers complete their various tasks so that a patient may receive their proper medication, medication errors unfortunately can happen at any stage. Medication errors can involve errors in various stages of the process of ordering or delivering medication. For patients who are medically in need of specific medication to help their condition, and for patients who aren’t necessarily in dire need of their medication, but find themselves on the receiving end of a medication error, the consequences can be devastating.
What Can Happen After a Medication Error?
Medication errors can lead to serious injuries and can lead to adverse reactions. Medication errors can range from receiving the wrong dose, the wrong frequency, and the wrong drug, in addition to the wrong-patient medication error. However, when an incident report is filed and labeled as a wrong-patient error in medication administration, what exactly does that entail? It has been particularly unclear if wrong-patient errors for drug administration involves the wrong-patient receiving a medication intended for someone else, or if the intended patient received the wrong drug. A recent and eye-opening study sought to clarify the meaning behind “wrong-patient” errors in drug administration.
A study was recently published in August 2022 on DovePress, which features peer-reviewed journals in science, technology, and medicine. In this study, researchers investigated wrong-patient medication errors in incident reports that were voluntarily reported by medical staff at a university hospital in Japan. Specifically, the study investigated whether the patient or the drug had been incorrectly chosen in drug administration in incident reports that included wrong-patient errors. The results revealed a few things. First, the study included a total of 4,337 incidents that were reported between April 2015 and March 2016 at a particular hospital in Japan, and medication-related incidents were the most prevalent. According to the study, “[o]f the medication-related incidents, the largest number of incidents occurred at the medication administration stage…”. Evaluators determined “that cases where the intended drugs were administered to incorrect patients occurred less frequently than cases where the wrong drugs were administered to the intended patients.” In essence, this means that the study found that there were more mix-ups involving patients who received a different medication than what they were supposed to receive because there was some kind of mix-up with the type of medication administered (the patients were receiving the wrong drugs, versus situations where the right drugs mistakenly go to the wrong patient).