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Federal Study Indicates Spike in Medication Errors

According to a study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, there has been a 50% increase in the number of medication errors reported from around the country. Five years after a report by the Institute of Medicine warned that medication errors contributed to a $3.5 billion bill in medical costs, lost wages and other related expenses every year, the number of medication errors injuring people every year has not dropped, but has actually increased. This should concern any Atlanta pharmacy error lawyer.

What’s worse is that the number of medication errors could actually be higher than the report claims. The report only considered those mistakes that left people ill enough to rush to a hospital or emergency room.

According to the study, most cases of medication errors are related to the use of corticosteroids. These are followed by cancer drugs, hypertension drugs, cardiac medications and blood thinners. Elderly persons above the age of 65 are more susceptible to medication errors. Teenagers and children are also at a higher risk of medication errors than adults. About one in every five patients who suffer from medication errors, is a teenager or a child. People older than 65 were most likely to be hospitalized for side effects or medication-related injuries. However, young people were also at risk. One in five emergency cases related to medication problems were children or teenagers.

The report doesn’t contain much information about whether these errors involved wrong prescription or wrong dosage information by the doctor, or whether the error involved a wrong dose dispensed by a pharmacist. They also don’t inform us about whether these errors occurred at home when patients took the wrong dose or the wrong medication. However, a 50% increase is a staggering spike, and the Agency for Research and Quality is likely to do more research into the causes of the increase.

The committee said the problem could be solved with improvements in communication between health care professionals and patients, as well as the creation of consumer-friendly information resources for patients to obtain drug information. The report called for more electronic prescriptions and said better naming, labeling and packaging of many drugs was needed to reduce confusion and prevent errors. These all seem like good recommendations. I have handled many prescription error cases and the most common causes of this type of malpractice would likely be addressed by these recommendations. After all, we all want this negligence to go aways, so the committee’s recommendations are sound.

Attorney Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, automobile accident cases, personal injury cases, dental malpractice and medical malpractice lawsuits for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 20 years in and around Atlanta, Georgia and its surrounding areas, including Alpharetta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured and would like quality legal representation, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.