Medication errors are an unfortunate yet avoidable part of the healthcare system in the United States. While technology, training, and oversight aimed at reducing medication errors have improved over the years, these instances continue to occur. According to the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP), Maryland medication errors cost patients, consumers, and the healthcare system millions of dollars. Further, data indicate that medication errors harm over 1.5 million people each year.
Medication errors are preventable events that result in inappropriate medication use and patient harm. The events may stem from a healthcare professional’s conduct, a specific product, or a system. For instance, errors may stem from communicating prescriptions, dispensing or administration, marketing or labeling, or monitoring. Many errors stem from illegible handwritten prescriptions, missing information, incorrect drugs or dosage, orally transmitted prescriptions, or medication samples.
While advanced technology, reporting technology, and monitoring address some of the common causes of medication errors, there are fundamental issues with addressing systematic attitudes of blame and liability. Medication errors can result in serious formal punishment against the healthcare provider. These punishments can include fines, license suspension, or revocation. As a result, many healthcare providers focus on shifting blame rather than addressing the system issues that caused the error.
There are various ways to prevent medication errors and injury to consumers and patients. First, healthcare workers should provide patients with adequate education about how to use their medications properly. There are steps both healthcare providers, and consumers can take to avoid medication errors. Some steps include reviewing the names and indications of medications, reviewing medication sheets, properly storing drugs, and reviewing interactions and warnings. Moreover, prior authorization programs and standardized barcoding systems can enhance patient safety. Additionally, electronic prescription records can ensure that all healthcare providers, including doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, have a complete understanding of a patient’s background. Each of these parties can serve as an additional set of eyes to prevent contraindications and errors.
Another way to prevent medication errors is by implementing automated medication dispensing systems. These systems, commonly known as “medication cabinets,” allow health care providers and pharmacists with alerts and warnings when retrieving medications for a patient. Those involved in medication errors should recognize that people and systems both contribute to medication errors. Those responsible should utilize the many safeguards they have to ensure that these errors do not occur.
Have You Suffered Injuries Because of a Medication Error?
If you or someone you know has suffered injuries or died because of a Maryland medication error, the attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen can help you recover compensation for your damages. The lawyers at our firm maintain an active practice successfully representing Maryland, Washington D.C., and Virginia injury victims. We handle claims stemming from auto accidents, pharmacy errors, medical malpractice, nursing home abuse and neglect, and wrongful death. Our attorneys understand the devastating toll that an accident or injury can have on a person, and we work to ensure that our clients are made whole again. Contact our office at 800-654-1949 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney on our team.