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How the FDA tries to curb medication errors


Nearly every Floridian takes medication at one time or another in his or her life. Without thought, we swallow pills, down medicated liquids, and submit to injections. We put our trust in our doctors and nurses, oftentimes without even considering if what they are administering or prescribing is what we really need. Medication errors, though, are a reality, and many individuals are seriously harmed or even killed as a result. So, what is being done to curtail these tragic incidences?

One thing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does is analyze proprietary drug names. This process aims to avoid medication confusion and ensure that medication names do not lead to false beliefs on the part of consumers and medical professionals. As a way to ensure safety, the FDA assesses a drug's name, spelling, pronunciation, and how it looks when written or printed in the various stages of the medication system.

A defect in any of these assessments could cause a drug's name to be deemed unacceptable. For example, a drug that has a similar sounding name to another drug could cause confusion if approved. The result could be devastating. These FDA tests are quite thorough. Algorithms are used to search medication name databases for similarities and handwriting analysis helps determine if the mere misreading of an "a" for a "c" would cause detrimental confusion.

Unfortunately, despite the FDA's efforts to prevent medication errors, these incidences continue to occur. Unsuspecting patients then find themselves having to cope with a worsened medical condition, additional medical costs, and significant pain and suffering. These victims, though, may be able to find relief and send a message that care must be taken when prescribing or administering medication by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Those who think they may have been harmed by a medical professional's error should consider contacting an experienced Florida attorney.

Source: FDA, "How FDA Reviews Proposed Drug Names," accessed on May 29, 2015

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