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Medication errors are far too prevalent


Medical errors can take many forms. Doctors can fail to accurately diagnose a medical condition, surgical instruments may be left inside a patient during an operation, and medical personnel may fail to properly monitor a patient who is in a dire condition. Another all too common doctor mistake involves medication errors. Unfortunately, far too many patients, including those in Massachusetts, are subjected to medication mistakes, often leaving them seriously injured or even dead.

The statistics are staggering. Some estimate nearly 1.3 million individuals are hurt each year in the U.S. as a result of medication errors. That means more than one million patients are harmed by improper medication dispensing, erroneous distribution, and inappropriate administration. This is wholly unacceptable.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, of those medication errors that are fatal, 41 percent are caused by inaccurate dosages. In these instances, patients are often given more medication than they need, flooding their bodies with often toxic levels of the drug. Sixteen percent of the remaining fatal errors are caused by the administration of the wrong drug. Drugs are typically created to treat very specific conditions. If that condition is not present when the drug is given, it may have a serious adverse effect on the patient.

The best way for patients to protect themselves from medication errors is to ask questions. They should be sure they know the name of the medication they are taking and the appropriate dosage. This way, they can better ensure they are given the correct drug in the right amount.

However, even thorough questioning cannot fully protect an individual from a medication error. Those who have been harmed by such mishaps should consider consulting with a medical malpractice attorney to discuss the possibility of filing a negligence claim against those who caused their injuries.

Source: MedicineNet.com, "The Most Common Medication Errors," Melissa Conrad Stoppler, Nov. 21, 2014

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