Medications are among the most valuable and powerful tools in health care, but administering them improperly can have disastrous consequences. Depending on the drug involved, a medication error may result in serious side effects, worsen diseases and even lead to death.
Medication errors often result from one or a combination of the following factors:
Lacking the ability to identify and dispense medication, as well as knowledge of effects, typical side effects and possible contraindications, can lead health care workers to commit serious errors.
Lacking communication among health care workers
Patients usually seek help from multiple professionals, including physicians, nurses and pharmacists, throughout their treatment. These professionals need to accurately record the medications and dosages administered to a patient to prevent potentially harmful misinterpretations.
Failure to get the patient’s medical history
Some medications do not mix with other drugs or certain health conditions. Without a patient’s comprehensive medical history, a doctor might prescribe medicines that are ineffective or dangerous given the former’s preexisting illnesses or medication regimen.
Improper labeling of medications
A label often provides essential information about a drug, including its name, dosage, application and expiry date. Mislabeling could result in a patient receiving the wrong medicine or dosage or a drug that is no longer safe to consume.
After administering medications, health care professionals need to observe patients for a certain period. This monitoring period helps them watch for adverse reactions and any need to adjust the drug’s dosage.
Medication errors are a never event, which means they are largely preventable with appropriate measures. Knowing the law can help victims of medication errors fight for their rights and hold responsible parties accountable for their injuries.