Prescription Errors Continue to Injure Patients Nationwide

By Greg Kohn

How do medication errors occur in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and pharmacies?

Prescription medications are administered to help us feel better and even to save our lives, but medication errors can inflict serious injuries or even death.  According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), medication errors result in thousands of deaths annually, along with thousands of injuries.  The true incidence of medication errors is hard to determine, with scholarly reports estimating that somewhere between two and 514 per 1,000 prescriptions involve errors.

What is a medication error?

A medication error involves a failure within the treatment process that leads to harm of the patient.  Medication errors can occur at all levels of the medication distribution process, including during:

  • Prescribing;
  • Repackaging;
  • Dispensing;
  • Administration; or
  • Patient monitoring.

Causes of Medication Errors

There are numerous causes of medication errors.  Some of the most frequent causes of medication errors include choosing the wrong medication, writing the prescription illegibly, dispensing the wrong drug, or prescribing the drug at a wrong dosage or frequency.  These errors can happen for any number of reasons, with some of the most common including:

  • Poor communication between health care providers;
  • Poor communication between a health care provider and the patient;
  • Patient misuse due to poor directions;
  • Improper procedures;
  • Inadequate training;
  • Job stress;
  • Fatigue among health care professionals;
  • Similar labeling of products; and
  • Ambiguities in the drug name or medical abbreviations

Errors are more likely to occur among junior doctors, demonstrating that medication errors are often rooted in inexperience.  Proper supervision and training of medical professionals can help to prevent medication errors.  Effective error reporting can lead to fewer medication errors by allowing the hospital or another medical facility to identify errors and combat similar errors in the future.

Medical Malpractice and Prescription Errors

If you or a loved one has been injured due to a medication error, you may have the legal right to seek compensation from the health care provider or hospital responsible for your injuries.  Medical malpractice actions are complex, high-stakes claims that will required experienced legal assistance. Contact our skilled New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys at Nagel Rice today to schedule your consultation.

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.