As pharmacy error attorneys, we often discuss why pharmacy patients at community and chain pharmacies receive the wrong medication or the wrong dosage of drugs. However, this article will shed light on the many reasons hospital patients are finding themselves victims of medication mix-ups.
What are the causes of many hospital patients getting the wrong medications?
According to a new study from the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, many medications are going to the wrong hospital patients. While many reasons exist as to why medication mistakes occur, prescription errors can be made by anyone at any time at a hospital. Four main factors that contribute to these errors are:
- Errors during administration. About 43 percent of medication errors occur during the administration stage and include selecting the wrong medication from an automated dispensing cabinet, mixing up patients who are sharing a room, and ignoring protocol for identifying patients.
- Errors during transcribing. About 38 percent of medication errors occurred during transferring a paper prescription over to an electronic or paper medication administration record. These types of mistakes were typically the result of transferring information from the wrong patient chart.
- Errors during prescribing. About 12 percent of these types of errors occur because physicians order drugs for patients on wrong patient charts, causing other patients to receive the wrong medication by mistake.
- Errors during dispensing. Surprisingly, prescription dispensing errors in hospitals only accounted for about five percent of medication errors. These types of errors generally happened when medication was put in the wrong patient’s bin or the incorrect patient’s label was put on someone else’s medication.
These findings were a result of over 800 wrong-patient medication errors that were reported to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority over a six-month period. As a result of these reports, it was determined that most medication errors occur during the administration and transcribing stages; however, wrong medication continues to occur during every stage and across all departments.
Because just one medication mix up can cause serious injuries for a patient, or turn deadly, it is important to change processes in an effort to reduce the risk of patients receiving the wrong medication. The study identified a few areas that could improve patient safety and minimize errors, including:
- Improved patient engagement
- Computerized prescriber order entry
- Scannable bracelets for more accurate ID checks
- Better procedures for patient verification
- More in-depth training on healthcare technology
By implementing these risk-reduction strategies and speaking to patients about the importance of making sure hospital nurses, doctors, or other staff members check their identifications before receiving medication, patient harm can be reduced.
If you have been harmed in a hospital or pharmacy after receiving incorrect medication, you may have a wrong medication claim against the party responsible. Please call the experienced pharmacy error lawyers at Kennedy Hodges at 888-526-7616 for a free consultation. Also, request a free copy of our report, How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.