Every year, at least 7 million people in New Mexico and across the U.S. are subject to a preventable medication error. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality says that 2% to 5% of all hospital admissions in the world are the result of such errors. Around 30% of these patients suffer some degree of harm from the mistake, and for 7% of them, it’s severe.
The elderly are especially prone to be victims of these errors, but other risk factors exist. For example, those who have suffered kidney failure, who have one or more chronic diseases,, or who take multiple medications are at a higher risk. On the other hand, certain medications can be classified as high-risk, though the level of risk will vary based on the environment in which pharmacists and other health care professionals work.
High-risk medications include opioids, insulin, anticholinergics (used to treat conditions like urinary incontinence and Parkinson’s disease) and anticoagulants like heparin. Hospitals would do well to limit access to such medications.
Other ways to prevent medication errors include creating a medication safety program, outlining what doctors should do in the event of a drug shortage and addressing the dangers that come with using electronic health records and automated dispensing systems. Medical professionals of different disciplines must learn to collaborate.
There is a generally accepted standard of care that health care professionals must follow, and if their failure to do so leads to an error and, consequently, an injury to a patient, that patient may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. If may be wise to see a lawyer, though, because even the strongest malpractice claim can face opposition from the other side. With a lawyer, the victim may be able to negotiate a fair settlement out of court.