When a person checks into a New York hospital, a friend or relative should go along to monitor medications and watch for mistakes. That is the advice from a representative from Leapfrog, a nonprofit organization that rates hospitals on safety. Medical errors, which include medication mistakes, have been identified as the third most common cause of death in the United States.
Health safety experts have turned to computer software systems to analyze medication orders and check for problems like harmful interactions, allergies and wrong dosages. The software, however, has been falling short of expectations. A survey of nearly 1,800 hospitals conducted by Leapfrog found that the computer systems failed to catch many mistakes. They did not flag nearly 40 percent of drug orders that could have been dangerous and in some cases fatal.
Complaints about the inadequacy of computer-assisted drug ordering systems have been coming from physicians and medical safety advocates. They claim that poor design plagues the user interfaces and makes the software hard to use. To improve the software, industry experts should continue to refine the systems. As of 2015, medication errors persisted as a problem. The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality calculated that drug errors harmed 1 in 20 hospital patients.
A person whose condition was worsened because of a dangerous combination of prescriptions might want to seek compensation for the extra medical expenses and other losses. A medical malpractice attorney can review the patient’s hospital records and, after obtaining the opinions of medical experts, make a determination as to whether negligence was present.