Prescription and Medication Errors

Medication Errors

Approximately 1.3 million people are injured each year in the United States due to medication errors. 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.”

What kinds of medication errors are most common?

In a study by the FDA that evaluated reports of fatal medication errors from 1993 to 1998, the most common error involving medications was related to administration of an improper dose of medicine, accounting for 41% of fatal medication errors. Giving the wrong medication and using the wrong method of drug administration each accounted for 16% of the errors.  Other types of medication errors include:

  • The doctor does not ask about or consider vital patient information, including a patient’s allergies, other medicines they are taking, previous diagnoses or lab results.
  • The doctor misdiagnoses the patient and then prescribes inappropriate medication.
  • The doctor and/or pharmacist does not have or consider up-to-date warnings about the medication.
  • Drug orders are miscommunicated due to poor handwriting, confusion between drugs with similar names, misuse of zeroes and decimal points, confusion of metric and other dosing units, and/or inappropriate abbreviations.
  • The pharmacist attaches the wrong label, an inaccurate label or an inappropriate label to the drug packaging.
  • The drug manufacturer provides the wrong drug label.
  • A drug is given to the wrong patient by a pharmacist, nurse, doctor or other hospital personnel.

Older people may be at a greater risk for medication errors because they often take multiple prescription medications.  In the study, people over the age of 60 accounted for more than half of the fatalities attributed to medication and prescription errors.

Medication Errors Lawsuit

Medical malpractice claims involving prescription medication errors are one the most common types of lawsuits against doctors and other health care providers. If you or a loved one has been injured because of a prescription medication error, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.  Contact a medical malpractice attorney in Wausau at 715.843.6700.  Our lawyers handle medical malpractice lawsuits in Wausau, Marshfield, Wisconsin Rapids, Merrill, Stevens Point, Minocqua, Rhinelander, Antigo, Shawano, and throughout north central Wisconsin.