The primary causes of medication errors

| Oct 9, 2020 | Blog, Medication Errors

The high amount of medications prescribed by doctors in New Mexico and around the country means that errors are likely made in the handling or prescription. These errors could result in more harm to patients than mild discomfort. Knowing why errors happen gives a consumer more control of their health.

Basics of prescription drug errors

Statistics show that prescription medication errors cause between 7,000 and 9,000 deaths in the U.S. annually. The errors can happen anywhere in communication between a doctor and the patient, which can include:

  • The patient getting the wrong medication
  • The patient receiving incorrect dosage
  • A prescription causing a negative reaction with another prescription
  • Someone mislabeling the medication
  • A doctor or pharmacist not informing the patient of side effects

Causes of medication errors

Many reasons may be behind prescription errors whether intentional or not. Errors usually occur from incompetence and lack of knowledge of a patient’s treatment history. Miscommunication between doctors and staff has also been known to cause errors. For example, a pharmacist may get confused on drug names that sound alike or ones with similar abbreviations.

Doctors often get interrupted and perform many jobs, so distractions may also be behind mistakes in prescriptions. Studies indicate that 75% of prescription errors occur from distractions.

In addition, doctors have been known for their illegible writing. A pharmacist who makes a guess at what the doctor says could put the patient at risk, but modern methods of prescribing help lower the risk.

While most prescription drug errors do not have ill intentions behind them, it still counts as neglect. Patients may be entitled to compensation for issues that medication errors have caused them.

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