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Prescription errors in a hospital setting

Most hospitals in New Mexico and throughout the U.S. have computerized systems that allow physicians to enter medication orders for patients. However, a survey conducted by a patient safety group suggests that the software used by hospitals has problems flagging potential safety issues. The data was collected from a voluntary survey of approximately 1,800 hospitals. One of the significant findings was that nearly 40 percent of potentially dangerous orders weren't flagged by computer software.

Issues that were not always captured by the computers included dose sizes that were inappropriate based on the patient's weight and gender. The systems also failed at determining whether a specific drug would interact with others that a patient was taken. Another important finding was that around 13 percent of errors made by a computer program could have led to the death of a patient.

While the transition to electronic records started several years ago, some professionals are hesitant to use them. Some believe that the system is not designed properly and may counterproductive to use. Furthermore, it is acknowledged that not all medication errors are necessarily dangerous as much as they are inconvenient. It is estimated that one patient is harmed by a medication for every 20 who are admitted to a hospital with about half of those errors considered to be avoidable.

Patients who are given the wrong medication can see their condition worsen, leading to the need for additional and expensive medical care and treatment. If it can be determined that the error constituted negligence, legal counsel may find it advisable to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the at-fault practitioner and facility.

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