Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Close to one-third of adults in the country take 5 or more medications. An adverse drug event (ADE) is the harm that the patient experiences as a result of exposure to a medication.
Nearly 700,000 emergency department visits and 100,000 hospitalizations are related to ADEs each year. ADEs are one of the most common types of inpatient errors, affecting nearly 5% of hospitalized patients and may be experienced by ambulatory patients at an even higher rate.
Causes of Medication Errors and How to Prevent Them
Medication errors can take place anywhere, including in doctor’s offices, pharmacies, hospitals, senior living facilities, and in your own home. Knowing what you are up against can significantly help you in playing it safe. The most common causes of medication errors include:
- Poor or lack of communication between healthcare providers
- Poor or lack of communication between healthcare providers and their patients
- Sound-alike medical abbreviations and medication names
Communication is important in the prevention of medication errors. Your best knowledge against such errors is knowledge. You should ask for an explanation if you do not understand something that your doctor says. Whenever you are prescribed a new medication, make sure that you know the answers to the following questions:
- What is the generic or brand name of the medication?
- What are the results you should expect? How long will I have to wait until I see results?
- What is the dose? How long will I need to take it?
- Are there foods, drinks or other medications that I should avoid while on the medication course?
- Are there any side effects? What should I do in case I experience them?
- What steps should I take if I miss a dose?
- What steps should I take if I accidentally take more than the recommended dose?
- Will the new medication interfere with the ones I am currently taking? And if so, how?
Apart from asking questions, you need to make sure that you collaborate with your health care providers through a process known as medication reconciliation. This is another way to significantly minimize the risk of medication errors.
Your most precious and irreplaceable asset is your health. When you put your health in the care of medical professionals, you are basically entrusting your most valuable possession to them. To make sure that they respect this trust, healthcare providers are both ethically and legally bound to a rigorous standard of treatment that they need to meet every time they render their services. The failure to meet this standard, whether it is willfully or accidentally, constitutes medical malpractice.
If you or a loved one has been injured or harmed by a medication error, you should immediately seek the counsel of the qualified and experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff of RMFW Law at 212 697 9280. We know how to win cases and yours is no different. If your case is viable, we will move mountains to make sure you are compensated fairly.