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System prevents hospital medication errors, but is under-utilized

Technological innovation in the medical field can be a good thing for patients. New surgical equipment, diagnostic tools, and recording systems can reduce mistakes and better ensure safety. Yet, while these new implementations can be extremely helpful, they also highlight just how often medical malpractice occurs. One such innovation is an electronic processing system for prescriptions which a new study has found reduced medication errors by half.

The CPOE system digitizes prescriptions, reducing errors associated with handwritten instructions, and includes built-in checks to help ensure appropriate dosages and prevent dangerous drug interactions. While this may sound positive, the study found only one-third of all hospitals use the CPOE system. Additionally, amongst hospitals that use the system, 42% only use the system half the time and only 25% of those hospitals use the system 90% of the time.

This leaves the risk of a hospital medication error too high. With an estimated reduction in medication errors of 12.5% for 2008 alone, the study suggests that 17.4 million errors were prevented in one year. This means there are millions of errors that go unchecked.

A hospital or nursing medication error can cause serious harm. A victim can be left with a serious injury that requires long-term care, permanent disability, or the victim can die. When injuries result, the road to recovery can be long and painful. Physical and emotional trauma can be difficult to overcome and can be quite costly.

Fortunately, legal action can help victims obtain the compensation necessary to receive the care needed for recovery. To succeed on a medical malpractice claim, a victim must prove the doctor or hospital owed the patient a duty of care, the duty was breached, and the victim's injuries resulted from the breach.

Once these elements have been satisfied, a victim can obtain awards to cover medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. Then, a victim can focus on obtaining the care necessary to reach a full recovery.

Source: News Medical, "CPOE systems 'cut drug errors in half'," Joanna Lyford, Mar. 1, 2013

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