Recent research suggests that nearly half of all heart patients in the United States are taking their medicine incorrectly or do not understand the directions that were given to them regarding how to take their medication. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discovered that 20 percent of prescriptions are never filled after a patient is discharged from the hospital and half of medications are never taken as prescribed.
One factor that may determine whether a patient takes medicine correctly is whether or not he or she is health literate. Those who are not may be at the highest risk of making mistakes that could be harmful to their health. The authors of the study that found the high rate of errors suggest that more research be done to identify those who may be in need of counseling before going home with a prescribed medication.
Who is at the highest risk of making an error? According to the results of the study, single people were more likely to make a mistake than married people while those who had good math skills were less likely to make an error. Older people or people who had poor cognitive function were more likely to make a mistake when taking their medication.
If an individual takes the wrong dose of a medication or takes the wrong medication, it may cause serious injury or death. If it is determined that a doctor or pharmacist error lead to a person taking something that he or she shouldn’t have taken, it may be grounds for a medical malpractice suit. Those who believe that a doctor’s error caused additional health problems may wish to talk to an attorney who may be able to provide assistance in pursuing their case.
Source: Reuters, “Medication errors may be common after hospital discharge”, Krystnell Storr, July 18, 2014