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Most medication errors occur during administration

Most medication errors occur during administration of the drugs. Many medications are being administered by IV, and since many are administered by using a number of doses and varying timings, the chance that a medication error could occur is great.

Unfortunately, most of these errors resulted in patients either taking the wrong dosage or incorrect type of medication. One study suggests that as much as 70 percent of medication errors do occur during administration, whereas 16 percent occur during dispensing of the medications, 8.5 percent during the prescribing of the drugs, and only 7.8 percent occurring in the way the drug usage is being monitored.

The study makes a number of recommendations as to reduction of these medication errors. There are systems in place for programmable IV infusion pumps that will alert medical staff if the dose that is programmed does not match the accepted standard for each drug. It has also been suggested that concentrations of the medication to be administered should be limited to prevent overdoses from occurring, and protocol should be in place requiring the double checking of dosage and concentration levels.

Pennsylvania doctors likely understand just how many medication errors have occurred, and are also probably aware of a large number of near misses. Nevertheless, medical malpractice attorneys will hold hospital staff accountable when medication errors do occur because these types of errors are easily avoidable.

These types of errors often come down to simple human factors. For example, nurses cannot properly read the doctor's handwriting, medical staff has not checked the patient's history or allergies, or doctors prescribe drugs that adversely interact with other drugs the patient is taking. These errors should not ever occur.

Source: Pharmacy Practice News, "Administration Errors Are Danger Spot in Acute Care Setting," by Maureen Sullivan, Oct. 2012

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