Prescription Errors

A 2016 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) stated that it has been more than 15 years since To Err Is Human, the landmark report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), revealed the substantial morbidity and mortality related to medical errors in the United States. The data suggested that deaths associated with medical errors, at the time, were between 44,000 – 98,000 annually, but new data suggests it now may exceed 400,000. That’s more than 1000 wrongful deaths per day. Medication errors are preventable. Preventable medical errors persist as the No. 3 killer in the U.S.

The FDA defines medication errors 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.”

According to The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2015, the total number of retail prescription drugs filled at U.S. pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, Target and Publix equaled 4,065,175,064. Florida pharmacists filed out 255,159,689 prescriptions making it the second largest prescription drug filling state after California.

Often the elderly and patients in nursing homes and long term care facilities are the most susceptible to prescription errors. And people who take multiple prescription medications are often at great risk for a serious injury or death.

Some of the most common pharmacist and prescription drug error are due to:

  • Wrong dosage
  • Wrong medication
  • Wrong instructions
  • Wrong person
  • Wrong warning label
  • Sound-alike medication names and medical abbreviation
  • Illegible handwriting
  • Interacting drugs
  • Poor communications
  • Poor procedures or techniques
  • Insufficient training

In order to stay safe, it is very important that you also take an active role by educating yourself on the medications you are taking. You should know the current information about the drug you are taking including the name or generic names, drug concerns, possible drug interactions, any known side effects or potential allergic reactions, how much you should be taking, when you should be taking it and what to do if you experience any complications. A good website to visit for drug information, interaction and helpful worksheet is Worst Pills, Best Pills Drug Worksheet for Patients, Family, Doctor and Pharmacist.

We recently blogged about Are Electronic Prescriptions Safer and provided some tips on minimizing your chance of a prescription error. Tips included – selecting a reputable pharmacy, which will allow you to get to know the staff, provides you the opportunity to talk to your pharmacist directly when you have questions or need clarification. You should also always check the label and open the bottle to make sure the medication matches the prescription provided. You can also read our blog on Questions Regarding Your Medication for additional resources and safety tips.

Attorney Tami Wolfe has years of experience handling complex medical malpractice lawsuits and wrongful deaths regarding medical and prescription errors by doctors, nurses, hospitals, long-term care facilities, pharmacists, pharmacies and other negligent parties.

If you or a loved one has suffered a serious medical malpractice injury, a catastrophic injury or wrongful death due to a pharmacy error or prescription error, contact Tami Wolfe online or call her today at (954) 791-0477 for a FREE consultation.

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