Medication may be part of your treatment plan when you seek a doctor’s guidance for a health condition. However, if medical providers make a mistake, that error might put your health at risk. How common are these issues, and how might they impact you?
What kinds of medication errors could impact a patient?
Because appropriate medication administration depends on many different medical professionals, a mistake can lead to a severe error at any stage of that process.
Missing information in a patient’s file can lead to dangerous drug interactions. Miscommunication can lead to a patient receiving the wrong medicine. Pharmacy errors could leave patients without appropriate instructions or lead to the pharmacy filling the prescription incorrectly. In a hospital, miscommunication or mistakes can lead to staff giving an incorrect drug or dosage, missing doses or additional doses.
A medication error can lead to ineffective treatment or other dangerous outcomes. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notes that medication errors can lead to disability and life-threatening side effects.
How common are these errors?
Medication errors are more common than many people may believe. Some of these errors occur because of mislabeled medication or wrong medications sent home with patients. The Patient Safety Network estimates that medication errors occur in patients’ homes at a rate of between 2 and 33 percent.
Patients might hope that medication overseen by the staff of healthcare facilities would be less prone to error. However, the Patient Safety Network’s review of studies indicates that this is not necessarily the case. Instead, the median error rates are between 8 and 25 percent in hospitals and long-term care facilities. The administration of intravenous medication had an error rate of between 48 and 53 percent.
Medication errors in and out of healthcare facilities impact many patients. The FDA receives more than 100,000 reports of suspected medication issues each year. If you or a loved one has experienced one of these errors, you may want to explore your options for holding your healthcare provider responsible and for receiving financial support.