High-Alert Drugs Pose a Heightened Risk to Patients, Yet Many Hospitals Fail to Identify Them

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) creates an evolving list of high-alert medications that, while they are not necessarily more likely to be involved in an error, are especially dangerous if they are accidentally given to a patient. However, according to one industry news report, despite the availability of this list, many hospitals across the country do not have a readily accessible high-alert drug list or fail to take appropriate measures to ensure hospital staff is aware of the list.

The report notes that some medications are more commonly associated with pharmacy errors. For example, medications with sound-alike names or medications that physically resemble other medications are more likely to be involved in an error. Thus, the report suggests that hospitals create hospital-specific lists of medications that may be at a higher risk of being involved in an error, due to specific factors in play at a particular hospital. For example, if the physical location of two drugs near each other has resulted in numerous errors, hospitals should add both medications to a high-alert drug list and take additional precautions so that these medications are not inadvertently mixed up in the future.

The report also explains that remedial measures taken by some hospitals are not effective in reducing pharmacy errors. For example, relying on staff training without further follow-up does not have a significant impact on error rates. Similarly ineffective measures are high-alert lists placed on pharmacy bins, since these are often overlooked by busy staff members.

Pharmacy Errors in Maryland Hospitals

While most people may assume that the majority of pharmacy errors take place in retail pharmacies, the reality is that a significant amount of the annual pharmacy errors nationwide occur in the hospital setting. Hospital staff, including doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, all have a duty to their patients to ensure that patients receive only the medications they are prescribed. When a mistake is made, and a patient suffers as a result, any number of hospital employees – as well as hospital management – may be held liable through a pharmacy error lawsuit.

Proving a pharmacy error lawsuit can be complex, depending on the circumstances surrounding the error. For example, it may be necessary to obtain expert witnesses to explain to the court what a pharmacist’s duty is in a particular situation. Other cases require a medical expert to establish that a plaintiff’s symptoms were the result of the pharmacist’s error. A dedicated pharmacy error attorney can assist in filing a lawsuit against a negligent health care worker or pharmacist.

Have You Been a Victim of a Pharmacy Error?

If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of a pharmacy error, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled personal injury attorneys at the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have decades of combined experience helping those injured by a negligent health care worker seek the compensation they deserve. Call 410-654-3600 to set up a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Pharmacist’s Error Results in Seven-Year-Old Boy Receiving Medication Ten Times Stronger than Prescribed, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, October 3, 2016.

Name Mix-Ups Are One of the Most Common Types of Pharmacy Errors, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, September 19, 2016.

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