The Alarming Reality of Prescription Medication Errors
At Philly Injury Lawyer, we are acutely aware of the impacts of medical malpractice, particularly regarding prescription medication errors. With our commitment to justice and our promise of "We Win or It's Free®", we stand ready to support those affected.
Prescription medication errors are a significant concern in the healthcare sector. As per a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, such errors account for nearly 1.3 million emergency department visits annually in the United States. These mistakes range from incorrect medication being prescribed to errors in dosage or administration.
Types of Prescription Medication Errors
Incorrect dosage can lead to under or over-medication, both having potentially severe consequences.
How Dosage Mistakes Occur
- Miscommunication: A frequent cause of dosage errors is miscommunication between healthcare professionals. For instance, a pharmacist might misinterpret a poorly written prescription, or there may be a lack of clarity in verbal instructions.
- Electronic Prescription Errors: With the increasing use of electronic health records and digital prescribing systems, errors can occur due to system glitches, user input errors, or misinterpretation of digital records.
- Human Error: Simple human errors, such as miscalculating dosages or confusing units of measurement (milligrams vs. micrograms), can lead to incorrect dosages being administered.
- Lack of Patient Information: Incomplete patient histories, including weight, age, or existing medications, can result in inappropriate dosage calculations.
- Overworked Healthcare Staff: Fatigue and high workloads among healthcare professionals can increase the likelihood of dosage errors.
Consequences of Dosage Mistakes
- Physical Harm to Patients: An overdose can lead to severe health complications, organ damage, or even fatality. Conversely, an underdose can result in the ineffectiveness of the medication, prolonging or worsening the patient's condition.
- Psychological Impact: Patients who have suffered from dosage mistakes may experience increased anxiety, loss of trust in healthcare systems, and emotional trauma.
- Financial Strain: Addressing the consequences of a dosage mistake often involves additional medical treatments, which can lead to increased financial burdens for patients and their families.
- Long-term Health Issues: In some cases, incorrect dosages can cause long-term health problems, necessitating ongoing medical care and impacting the patient’s quality of life.
- Wrong Medication: Prescribing a medication inappropriate for the patient's condition can cause harm and delay proper treatment.
How Incorrect Medication Errors Occur
- Misdiagnosis: One primary cause of incorrect medication prescription is misdiagnosis. If a healthcare professional inaccurately diagnoses a patient's condition, the prescribed medication may not only be ineffective but potentially harmful.
- Pharmacy Errors: Sometimes, the error occurs not in the prescription but in dispensing the medication. A pharmacist might misread the prescription or dispense a similar-looking or sounding drug.
- Inadequate Patient History Review: Failing to thoroughly review a patient's medical history, including allergies and current medications, can lead to prescribing medication that is unsuitable or dangerous for the patient.
- Lack of Communication: Inadequate communication among healthcare providers can result in one professional being unaware of another's prescription, leading to conflicting or inappropriate medication being prescribed.
- Systemic Issues: Healthcare systems overwhelmed with patients and paperwork can sometimes lead to mix-ups or oversight, resulting in incorrect medication being prescribed.
Consequences of Incorrect Medication Prescription
- Adverse Drug Reactions: Patients can suffer adverse reactions if they take medication that is not suited to their medical condition or interacts negatively with other medications they are taking.
- Worsening of Medical Condition: Taking the wrong medication can lead to a worsening of the patient's original medical condition, as the correct treatment is delayed.
- Additional Health Complications: Incorrect medication can introduce new health complications, necessitating further treatment and prolonging recovery.
- Psychological Distress: Discovering that one has been taking the wrong medication can lead to significant emotional distress and a loss of trust in healthcare systems.
- Financial Impact: The costs associated with addressing the fallout from incorrect medication, including additional medical care and potential loss of income, can be substantial.
- Drug Interaction Overlooks: Failure to consider a patient's current medications can lead to dangerous drug interactions.
How Drug Interaction Overlooks Occur
- Incomplete Patient Medication Records: If a healthcare provider does not have a complete record of all the medications a patient is currently taking, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements, they may prescribe a new medication that interacts adversely with the existing ones.
- Lack of Communication Between Healthcare Providers: When multiple healthcare providers are involved in a patient's care without adequate communication, there is a higher risk of prescribing medications that interact negatively with each other.
- Rapid Changes in Medication: Frequent changes in a patient's medication regimen without proper review can lead to the oversight of potential drug interactions.
- Overreliance on Electronic Prescribing Systems: While electronic prescribing systems often include checks for drug interactions, they are not infallible. Reliance on technology without proper human oversight can result in missed interactions.
- Inadequate Training or Knowledge: Healthcare providers may not always be up to date with the latest information regarding drug interactions, leading to potentially dangerous oversights.
Consequences of Overlooking Drug Interactions
- Adverse Health Reactions: Drug interactions can cause a range of adverse reactions, from mild side effects to severe, life-threatening conditions.
- Diminished Drug Efficacy: Interacting drugs can reduce the effectiveness of one or more of the involved medications, hindering the treatment of a patient’s medical condition.
- Unexpected Side Effects: Patients may experience side effects that are not typically associated with the medications they are taking due to unforeseen interactions.
- Hospitalization or Prolonged Treatment: Severe drug interactions may require hospitalization or extended medical treatment to resolve the resulting complications.
- Emotional and Psychological Impact: Patients can suffer significant emotional and psychological distress upon experiencing unexpected health issues due to drug interactions.
The Legal Perspective
Medical professionals are bound by a standard of care. Deviation from this standard, resulting in harm to the patient, constitutes malpractice. At Philly Injury Lawyer, we meticulously investigate these breaches to protect your rights.
Our experienced team adopts a sympathetic yet professional approach. We delve into each case, understanding the nuances and advocating relentlessly for our clients. With our expertise, we aim to bring not only compensation but also a sense of justice to those affected.
Prevention and Education
Prevention is key. We advocate for better training and stricter protocols in prescription management. Educating both professionals and patients is vital in reducing these errors.
How We Can Help
If you or a loved one has suffered due to a prescription medication error, Philly Injury Lawyer are here to help. Contact us at (215) 735-4800. Remember, with us, it's "We Win or It's Free®".