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Medication mistakes still too common, pose serious threat

Medication plays a vital role in patient treatment. When a doctor accurately diagnoses a patient and prescribes appropriate medication, the victim may feel less pain, have a condition prevented from getting worse, or have an illness completely remedied. Unfortunately, mistakes happen all too often when it comes to the prescribing and distribution of medicine. These errors can be severely injurious and may cause death.

A recent study conducted by the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority identified the primary reasons for medication errors. The errors were most prevalent in the administration of medication prescriptions. According to the report, 43 percent of medication errors were attributable to incidences like mixing up patients who were sharing a room, choosing a wrong patient from an automated dispensing cabinet, and ignoring protocol in patient identification by relying on patients' families to identify the patient.

Additionally, 38 percent of medication mistakes occurred from errors in transcribing the prescription or transferring the medication order to a larger record-keeping system. Perhaps the worst part of these accidents is that they are preventable when medical professionals are attentive.

When a medication error occurs and a patient is injured, she may be left with a worsened medical condition that requires extensive care. Recovering from such an injury not only takes time and energy, but it also takes a great deal of money. Those who are unable to afford such care may be left with a lifetime of pain they never deserved.

A medical malpractice lawsuit may help injured patients recover for their damages. If several elements can be proven at trial, or if a hospital does not want to go through litigation, a case may be won or settled. Once one of these events happens the patient may receive compensation for hospital expenses and pain and suffering. Additionally, a winning case punishes errant medical professionals and institutions and pushes them to implement more effective safety measures such as patient-worn scan bracelets capable of holding patient information.

Source: Med City News, "Why are medication orders going to the wrong patients? Here are four reasons," Stephanie Baum, Jun. 7, 2013

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