Many errors may be avoided by correct administrative practices

When a patient enters a hospital or care facility, it is often expected by the patient and other family members that they will be given the correct treatments and the correct medications for their illnesses or injuries. Medication errors may be costly and harmful, both to the medical facility and to the patient, but they are all too real to ignore. A recent study examined the cause of many medication errors in Pennsylvania and throughout the country, possibly looking for procedures that can help to prevent these serious errors.

Simple administrative errors were linked to errors with medication in a study done of over 800 incidents where patients received the wrong medication for medical ailments. Researchers found that administrative errors were responsible for close to half of the incidents that were studied.

Common administrative errors included choosing the wrong patient when obtaining medication and not verifying the patient ID with family or with the patient themselves. In the study, there were also times where staff was simply confused about which patient should receive a particular medication and an error was made.

Transcription errors were also a common cause of medication errors, signifying a problem between the physician’s prescription and the process of entering the information into the computer by a nurse or pharmacist. Regardless of the reason behind the error, a patient and their family members may be the most likely to suffer serious consequence from what appears to be a simple clerical error. Medication errors may be avoided and tragedies may be averted if the correct procedures are followed by health care professionals.

Source: Healthcare Global, “Study examines causes of medication errors,” August 6, 2013