At-home medication errors occur every 21 seconds in the U.S.

The rate of at-home medication errors has doubled from 2000 to 2012, leading to hundreds of fatalities.

A recent study has shed light on the problem of at-home medication errors. As CBS News reports, the study found that since 2000 the rate of medication errors that occur at home has doubled and that, on average, somebody in the United States calls a poison control center because of a medication error every 21 seconds. While many such errors do not result in patient harm, a significant portion of them do require hospitalization and at least 400 people have died from at-home medication errors between 2000 and 2012.

At-home medication errors climbing

The study looked at data collected by poison control centers throughout the United States between 2000 and 2012. The data focused on incidents reported to poison control centers involving either prescription drugs or over-the-counter medicines. Researchers found that the rate of serious medication errors that occurred outside of healthcare facilities increased from 1.09 per 100,000 people in 2000 to 2.28 per 100,000 in 2012.

While the majority of those errors did not result in patient harm, one third did require a hospital stay, which is a significant share. As NPR notes, overall there were 6,855 at-home medication errors reported to poison control centers in 2012, more than double the 3,065 cases reported in 2000. Furthermore, 414 people died as a result of medication errors covered by the data between 2000 and 2012.

Report underestimates the problem

The report, however, likely underestimates the extent of the problem. Because the study relied solely on data from poison control centers, it did not include incidents of medication errors that were not reported to those poison control centers. Because of that limitation, it is safe to say that medication errors are a much larger problem than even this study estimates them to be.

While all of the medication errors occurred outside of healthcare facilities, that does not mean that patients themselves were always the ones responsible for the mistakes. The most common errors included taking the wrong medicine, the wrong dosage, or taking the medication twice by mistake. Those errors could be due to patients making errors, instructions on bottles being confusing or easily misinterpreted, or even pharmacists making mistakes, such as giving patients medications with the wrong concentration or incorrect dosage instructions.

Help for medical malpractice victims

Medication errors are just one type of medical error that patients can suffer from when they visit a healthcare facility. Those who may have been harmed by a healthcare practitioner' s possible negligence should contact a medical malpractice attorney today. Medical malpractice cases can be complex, which is why patients need an attorney who has a proven track record in helping clients pursue whatever compensation they may be entitled to as a result of an alleged medical error.

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