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Protecting yourself from medication errors while hospitalized

In today’s tough economic climate, employers expect their employees to do more with less. Hospitals in Pittsburgh, PA are no exception. For example, doctors are nurses are forced to care for more patients because tighter budgets have caused reductions in staff. Budget cuts can also prevent hospitals from making critical updates to their electronic health records. Things like this can lead to medication errors.

A study from John Hopkins reveals that 98 percent of the time medical professionals do not inform patients that a medication error has been made. This may because they are afraid of damaging their professional reputation, the threat of a medical malpractice suit or another factor. Regardless of the reason, dosage errors or administering an incorrect drug can be fatal. If you think you have been the victim of a medication error, ask to see your chart and look for notes such as “incident report,” “risk management,” or “near miss.” These phrases are often indicative of medical mistakes.

There are also things that patients can do to prevent potential medication errors from occurring in the first place. Ask the attending physician to make a list of all of the medications you are being given and the purpose of each med. Then, before any drugs are administered, ask for the name of the drug and why you are taking it. This can prevent potential errors. If possible, you will also want to stay in a hospital that uses scanners to match medications with patient identification bracelets.

While preventing medication errors should not be the responsibility of the patient, it is still a good idea to take precautions when hospitalized. If you suffered a worsened condition or lost a loved one because of a medication error, you may want to speak with an attorney.

Source: Yahoo! Health, “Protect Yourself: 8 Common Mistakes Made by Hospital Staffs,” Cindy Kuzma, Oct. 7, 2013.

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