As much as medication has helped to improve health, medication errors do the opposite. Medication errors are prevalent today and can cause serious injury or even medical error deaths.
The National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention (NCCMERP) defines a medication error as:
"...any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient, or consumer. Such events may be related to professional practice, health care products, procedures, and systems, including prescribing, order communication, product labeling, packaging, and nomenclature, compounding, dispensing, distribution, administration, education, monitoring, and use."
The Institute for Healthcare Improvement recommends using the five rights for medication administration to reduce medication errors and ensure patient safety. The five rights are:
1) The right patient
2) The right drug
3) The right dose
4) The right route
5) The right time
Understanding these basic concepts of how practitioners can prevent medication errors also explains the common underlying causes of medication errors.
Patients are often subject to medication errors through the doctor’s error when writing the medical prescription, through medication administration or through pharmacy errors.
In any of these instances, when there is a patient mix-up and the wrong patient receives the medication, it can result in serious harm. Instantly, the patient is at risk for receiving a medication that may not work well with the other medications being taken. This error does not take into account allergic reactions, proper dosages or the possibility of overmedication or under-medication. More than one error — wrong medicine, wrong dosage and wrong time — may occur simultaneously because the wrong patient is receiving the medication.
When the medication is not the right drug for the patient, the error can have a double effect. The drug may actually be harmful for the patient. Or, the patient may experience harm due to not receiving the correct medication, which can be vital for timely treatment.
Even when not confusing patients, a doctor can err in prescribing a drug that is not right for the patient.
The pharmacist or doctor can make a mistake in the dosage. The hospital nurse administering the drug can err in dosage as well.
The route refers to how the medical professional delivers the drug. Some drugs are best taken orally and others must be injected. Using an improper route could adversely affect the patient.
Errors in the right time refer to administering the drug too often or too infrequently, or at the wrong time of day. Some drugs should be taken before eating or after eating meals.
When medical errors result in serious injury or death, you may have grounds to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Our attorneys at Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP have decades of experience successfully handling medical malpractice cases. If you suspect that you or a loved one has suffered injury due to a medication error, arrange a consultation to discuss your concerns.
Call us toll free at 888.519.6400, or contact us in Garden City at 516.248.2234, or in Flushing-Queens, Brooklyn or the Bronx at 718.539.3100. You can also fill in our contact form, and we will get in touch with you.