When most people think of medication errors, they think in terms of receiving the wrong drug or the wrong dosage when visiting their pharmacy. Unfortunately, medication errors can occur in a wide variety of environments. One such environment is the emergency or operating room. When a pharmacist is present to oversee the medication being administered in these situations, the likelihood of errors could potentially be reduced. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices both recommend that a pharmacist be present in emergency situations in order to minimize the likelihood of a medication error. Specifically, they suggest that a pharmacist be part of the cardiopulmonary response resuscitation team. Unfortunately, not every hospital has a pharmacist present in all emergency situations.
6 Reasons Why Medication Errors Occur in Emergency Rooms
Medication errors in emergency and operating rooms is a far too common occurrence. MEDMARX is an anonymous medication error reporting program that states emergency-related prescription drug errors are 39 times more likely to result in harm to a patient than errors that occur in situations other than an emergency. Similarly, 42.5 percent of the errors reported in the American Heart Association’s Get With the Guidelines – Resuscitation national registry involved medication errors. Why are medication errors so common in emergency situations? The following is an overview:
- When a patient is brought to the operating room and requires medication, protocol dictates that 41 different steps be carried out from starting the infusion to actually getting the medication ready for the patient.
- With so many steps, there are numerous points where an error can occur.
- Emergency situations are often chaotic. Human error is more likely to occur in a chaotic environment.
- Emergency situations are also intense and require high levels of focus with regard to medical care. The intensity of the situation can increase the odds of a medication error.
- The old saying “too many cooks in the kitchen” can also contribute to medication errors in emergency situations. With so many medical professionals present, an error may occur.
- Inexperience or knowledge deficits also play a role in medication errors that take place in emergency medical situations.
Other factors that can contribute to medication errors include lack of communication, poor standard operating procedures, inexperience when it comes to the preparation of medications, faulty drug information, and time sensitivity. In an emergency situation, it is often difficult or impossible to take the time to call upon reference materials or resources if there is a question or concern about the medication being administered.
If you suffered an injury as a result of a medication error, we are here to help. We encourage you to contact us today for a consultation at 888-526-7616.