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Even technology cannot fully prevent medication errors

The last several decades have seen a revolution in medication. Once incurable diseases are now eliminated by vaccinations, and other conditions and their symptoms can be beaten back, allowing individuals to live longer, healthier and happier lives. However, just as it is with other areas of healthcare, mistakes can be made in medication dosage or administration. These instances are far more common than we tend to think, and the result of such an error can be nothing short of tragic.

Perhaps most concerning is the fact that technological advances in medication administration seems to have had little effect on the prevalence of these medication errors. In fact, one study found that, out of nearly 2,000 I.V. infusions at 10 different hospitals, 60 percent saw at least one error. This is despite the I.V.s being equipped with a smart pump. Some say that electronic health records, smart pumps and medical professionals need better connectivity to ensure interoperability, but efforts have yet to remedy such problems.

Some medication errors are relatively minor. Others, though, are quite severe and can leave a patient with serious harm. A victim may be left with a worsened condition and a decreased chance of survival, or the event may prove fatal. In the event that a victim does suffer harm, he or she may want to consider filing a medical malpractice claim as a way to recoup his or her damages.

A successful hospital negligence claim could bring a victim compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and/or pain and suffering. Additionally, a winning lawsuit can shine a light on medical negligence involving medication errors, an under-discussed problem and, perhaps, spur change.

Source: AphA, "Majority of I.V. medication errors linked to clinical practice, not technology," March 10, 2016

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