Medication errors remain a common problem

Anyone who watches television can tell you that there is, seemingly, a medication for just about everything. Although medical professionals have the ability to prescribe drugs that are advertised on television, their arsenal of drugs is much larger. Technological advances and a better understanding of diseases and illnesses have led to the development of strong and efficient medications. These drugs can play a pivotal role in an individual’s ability to beat a medical condition, or at least curtail its symptoms. But there is a flip side to the coin. These powerful medications, when misused, can be harmful and even deadly.

One recent study, conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital, found that about half of 277 operations observed resulted in medication errors or an adverse side effect. Of those subjected to errors, about a third of them wound up harmed. This is a significant increase in occurrence compared to similar studies, which often rely on self-reporting of errors. According to the study, the most common mistake involved incorrect dosages. Researchers also discovered that longer operations, those that lasted six hours or longer, were more likely to result in errors.

So why are medication errors so common? It’s hard to say for sure, but there may be several contributing factors. Overworked medical professionals, inattentiveness and a lack of knowledge could all play an important role. However, regardless of the reasons, such mistakes are unacceptable. Errant medical professionals can leave individuals with a worsened medical condition, the onset of a new condition or a fight for their life.

The damages can be quite extensive. Physical pain and suffering can take its toll, and a victim of medical malpractice may need additional medical care, which can be quite costly. Also, if the incident leaves an individual unable to work for a period of time, then wages may be lost. Fortunately, medical malpractice victims can attempt to recover their losses by filing a legal claim against those whose negligence caused them harm.

Source: Albany Daily Star, “Previous Estimates of Medication Errors in the Operating Room Have Relied on Doctor’s Own Estimates,” April 3, 2016


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