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Common Medication Errors

Medications are designed to help patients recover from medical conditions and improve health, but approximately 1.3 million people are injured in the United States each year from medication errors. According to the National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention, a medication error is defined as "any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient, or consumer...related to professional practice, health care products, procedures, and systems, including prescribing; order communication; product labeling, packaging, and nomenclature; compounding; dispensing; distribution; administration; education; monitoring; and use."

What Are the Most Common Medication Errors?


Some of the most common medication errors include the following:

  • Improper Dosage. According to an FDA study of fatal medication errors between 1993 and 1998, the most common medication error was related to improper doses of medicine, which accounted for 41% of fatal medication errors.

  • Wrong Drug. According to an FDA study of fatal medication errors between 1993 and 1998, giving the wrong drug accounted for 16% of fatal medication errors.

  • Administration Errors. Drug administration errors also accounted for 16% of fatal medication errors, according to the same FDA study of fatal medication errors between 1993 and 1998.

  • Drug Interactions. Many patients, especially elderly patients, are taking more than one medication, which can sometimes result in dangerous drug interactions if the drugs are not compatible. By some estimates, approximately 40% of seniors are taking five or more prescriptions, with many of the medications prescribed by different specialists, which can put these patients at increased risk of dangerous drug interactions.

  • Dangerous Side Effects. Although drugs are tested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for quality and safety prior to approval, in some cases, they do not receive the scrutiny that they require and/or new evidence comes to light that links the drug with dangerous side effects. In these situations, the drug manufacturer can be held liable if it fails to adequately warn the public of such risks and doctors could be liable if they continue to prescribe the drug in light of the risks. For instance, a study published in The Lancet last year shows that high doses of some of the most common painkillers, including ibuprofen and diclofenac, can increase the risk of heart problems by nearly thirty percent. Patients taking painkillers should talk to their doctors about any increased risks of heart attack and if a doctor fails to adequately inform a patient of the risks associated with painkillers or fails to diagnose an impending heart attack, he or she could be liable for medical malpractice.


The Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish are committed to protecting the public from dangerous medical products, including unsafe pharmaceuticals and defective medical devices. If you have been injured by an unsafe medicine or defective medical device, contact the Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish to schedule a free consultation to discuss a possible product liability or medical malpractice claim.

 

Steinberg Goodman & Kalish  (www.sgklawyers.com) is dedicated to protecting victims and their families.  We handle medical malpractice, product liability, personal injury, wrongful death, auto accidents, professional negligence, birth trauma, and railroad law matters. Contact us at (800) 784-0150 or (312) 782-1386.

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