Mistakes are made with medications that should never be made. This is because medication errors are typically preventable mistakes. Shockingly, even trained medical professionals in hospitals can make mistakes using intravenous (IV) medication systems. When nurses or pharmacists mistakenly fill the wrong drug or wrong dosage of drugs in IV bags, a serious IV dosing error can cause harm to unassuming patients.
Sadly, when intravenous medications are involved in hospital medication mistakes, patients often suffer serious side-effects. This is because intravenous medications are delivered directly into the bloodstream and can be more harmful than medication errors involving oral drugs. A simple calculation error or confusion during an IV infusion can result in a serious IV dosing error that causes severe negative consequences.
Calculation Mistakes Cause Dosage Errors
Most general purpose IV devices are programmed at the patient’s bedside, which has led to many medication errors being made in the following ways:
- The wrong dosage may be selected by mistake because there are so many doses of medications available
- The range of programming options is enormous, which makes the IV medication process error-prone
- A nurse can overlook a decimal point and administer the wrong dosage
- Hospital staff can mistakenly press a key twice, which can lead to a medication overdose
Because there are many dosing limits, concentrations, and units available, errors often occur with IV medications. Unfortunately, it is far too easy for a nurse to dispense a different dose to a patient than what was ordered by a doctor. Because of this, hospitals should do the following to minimize IV dosing errors, including:
- There should be one strength of solution—or as few as possible—for each medication
- Hospitals should use a pre-mixed intravenous solution to reduce mixing errors
- All IV solutions should be properly mixed in the hospital pharmacy
- IV solution bags should have a calculation aid on the label so that nurses don’t have to make calculations that could result in the wrong dose
- All hospital workers should review the patient’s medication information before administering any drugs
- Smart computerized IV systems should be used to reduce the opportunities for error
When hospital nursing staff are overworked, tired, distracted, or busy, they may cause more IV dosing errors. This is why intravenous solutions should be mixed only by hospital pharmacists. When fewer people are involved, the chances for errors are less. However, hospital pharmacists can still make pharmacy errors, but it is often less than the errors made by nursing staff.
Unfortunately, the staff might not even know they have selected an incorrect amount or strength of intravenous solution. If you are a victim of the wrong dosage, please contact a skilled medication error lawyer at Kennedy Hodges today at 888-526-7616 for a free initial consultation and free copy of our report, How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.