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Medication Error

Studies show that medication errors make up for 25% of all medical malpractice cases. The National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention defines a medication error as "any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient, or consumer... related to professional practice, health care products, procedures and systems, including prescribing; order communication; product labeling, packaging, and nomenclature; compounding; dispensing; distribution; administration; education; monitoring; and use."

Common medication errors include:

  • Improper dosage
  • Prescription of the wrong medication or filling of the wrong medication for the correct prescription.
  • Administering two or more drugs that may magnify each other's side effects
  • Failing to adjust medication dosages when a patient loses kidney or liver function
  • Prescription of contraindicated medications
  •  Common reasons for these medication errors include:
  • Incomplete patient information (allergies, other medications, previous diagnoses, and lab results)
  • Unavailable drug information (lack of up-to-date warnings)
  • Miscommunication of drug orders, which includes poor handwriting and confusion between drugs with similar names.
  • Lack of appropriate labeling
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