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Common medication errors in Florida hospitals and how to prevent them

Last year, Johns Hopkins Medicine issued a report that stated that medical errors are the third leading cause of death among people in the United States. People in Florida may fall victim to any number of medical malpractice incidents, ranging from wrong-site surgeries to a physician failing to diagnose an illness.

A serious problem evident in hospitals is the medication error. Here, we examine how these events come to be and how they may be prevented.

Problem: Incorrect dosage

Administering the incorrect amount of a drug to a patient could be harmful and even fatal. Failing to give someone enough may render the medication ineffective; overdosing may also be a fatal drug error. These problems may be especially prevalent when the patient is a child, as dosage for children is typically based on bodyweight.

Prevent it: Medical professionals should review the amount of a drug to be administered more than once before giving it to the patient.

Problem: Incorrect drug

This may happen for a number of reasons, such as the following:

  • The names of two drugs are similar and medical staff confuses them
  • A physician wrote down the wrong medication
  • A doctor or nurse confuses patients for each other

Prevent it: This is another area where double-checking information would come in handy. Additionally, the Institute for Safe Medicine Practices, along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, has published a list with drugs that have names that look alike. Medical staff should be familiar with this list.

Problem: An adverse reaction

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, as many as 5 percent of people who are hospitalized may experience an adverse drug reaction. While not every single one of these is linked to medical negligence, these events may occur due to oversight. For example, a physician prescribes a drug that interacts with other medications the patient is on, or a nurse administers a drug to which the patient is allergic.

The AHRQ notes that the elderly may be especially susceptible to medication errors. This is because older Americans are more likely to be taking more than one medication at a time.

Prevent it: Physicians must be aware of a patient’s allergies and medical history. Thoroughly reviewing a patient’s record may help doctors prevent an adverse drug reaction. Additionally, patients should question a physician about any drug before they take it, including possible side effects.

Vigilance on behalf of both doctors and patients may go a long way in avoiding these medication errors. Anyone who has concerns about this issue should speak with a medical malpractice attorney in Florida.