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Assessing medication errors in the U.S.

A recent review of previous studies indicates that many children have been taking incorrect dosages, or have not been taking their prescriptions at all, due to mistakes made throughout the chain from filling out the prescriptions to administering patients' medications. Some experts claim that adopting the metric measuring system for medications would solve many problems with medication errors in New Mexico and the rest of the United States. According to the lead researcher, in order to fix the problems concerning prescription medications, families, pharmacists and physicians should collaborate.

Researchers found that there are approximately 7,000 juvenile deaths attributable to medication error each year. Medical records indicate that approximately 5 to 27 percent of medication orders in pediatrics involve children having the wrong prescriptions or incorrect dosages. Researchers reviewed more than 60 studies to assess which strategies might be most effective in reducing the propensity for medication errors. However, the varying factors affecting each study made it difficult to find any absolute solution.

Study authors say that it is easier to study the medication errors involving writing prescriptions as opposed to errors occurring at home. Researchers discovered that physicians who used preprinted prescription order forms instead of handwritten orders were able to reduce the likelihood of committing medication errors by 27 to 82 percent. Medical staff members who used software featuring clinical guidelines, reminders and diagnostic criteria were also able to reduce the number of prescription mistakes.

The study also showed that medications errors often occur because of miscommunications concerning the units of measurement for each dose. Parents who think that their children may be suffering due to prescription errors may benefit from consulting a lawyer. Legal counsel could investigate the claim and determine if a medical malpractice claim is warranted.

Source: Business Insider, "Doctors find strategies to reduce medication errors among kids ", Kathryn Doyle, July 14, 2014

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