A first-year medical resident has the decimal point in the wrong place for a patient’s medication dosage. Anesthesia is calculated incorrectly leaving a patient in a coma. A patient is started on a new medication that poses a dangerous interaction with an ongoing medication. A pharmacist fills a prescription for an incorrect strength of a medication. A nurse in a hospital gives a medication to the wrong patient. A doctor copies and pastes outdated information into a patient’s account. A patient has serious side effects from a medication that go unnoticed. The list goes on.
Many of these scenarios are not reported. For the cases that are, here are a few findings:
- A record review of 62 million U.S. death records revealed that a quarter million deaths were due to hospital medication errors (J of Gen Int Med, 2010)
- An estimated 450,000 preventable medication-related adverse events occur in the U.S. every year (Institute of Medicine, 2006)
- An estimated 7,000 deaths and 1.3 million injuries occur each year because of medication errors in America’s hospitals. (Institute of Medicine, 2006)
- The Institute of Medicine reports that a typical hospital patient is subjected to an average of at least one medication error per day (Institute of Medicine, 2006)
While new technology and patient safety measures emerge, such as electronic medical records, review boards and patient advocacy, many cases exist where medication errors have caused harm. Representative attorneys have many choices before them in researching these kinds of cases. Reliable drug information resources exist online free of charge. The other option is to invest in a consultant, who can provide medication background, identify concealed medication adverse effects and errors following a case review, and even serve as an expert witness.
You can investigate these options through an upcoming PBI webinar noon-1 p.m., June 8, 2016. Toxicologist Allison Muller Pharm.D, discusses paths to sort through cases involving possible harm caused by medications and provides the background for attorneys representing clients who have been harmed by medication errors.