In 2013, almost 70% of the United States population was taking prescription
drugs, 50% were taking two drugs at a time, and 20% were taking 5 or more.
Considering the scope of individuals taking 5 or more medications at a
time, it’s unsurprising that mistakes could occur in the prescription
given by the physician, in the transferal of the order to the pharmacy
of the patient’s choice, or in the distribution of the medication
by hospital staff.
Adverse drug events (ADE) happen when patients are harmed because of exposure
to a particular medication. ADEs account for almost 700,000 emergency
visits and 100,000 hospitalizations a year. About 5% of people in hospitals
also experience ADEs during their care. As many as 1.25 million errors
occur annually. Studies also estimate that almost half of these accidents
could be prevented by paying more attention.
What Causes Prescription Errors?
Sometimes mistakes in prescriptions are as easy to make as a doctor overlooking
a medicinal allergy. For example, if a physician is unaware a person is
allergic to Septra, an antibiotic containing sulfa, he or she may prescribe
another sulfa-based medication that could cause hives, swelling around
the head area, or difficulty breathing. However, liability becomes foggier
the more people are involved. A doctor could recommend the correct drug
for a patient, send it through the computer system to a pharmacist, or
give it to a medical assistant who might do the transfer instead.
Percentage of error in the prescription order process:
- Ordering – 39%
- Order verification – 12%
- Preparation and dispersal – 11%
- Administration – 38%
In some lucky cases, these inaccuracies are unnoticed because they have
no adverse effect on the patient. However, in other situations, these
errors can be deadly. Elderly people and children are the most vulnerable
groups. Seniors typically take more medications, increasing their likelihood
of encountering a prescription error. On the other hand, doctors prescribe
medication to children based on weight, meaning any more than the necessary
amount might affect the child severely.
If you or someone you know has been injured by a prescription error, you
may be eligible for compensation.
Contact one of our
Atlanta personal injury attorneys for a free case consultation.