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Nursing errors can cause just as much harm as doctor errors

If you are like most people here in Massachusetts, you probably think of doctors and surgeons when you think about medical malpractice regarding medication mistakes. However, another class of medical professionals exist, whose errors can cause just as much harm -- nurses.

Many people rightly consider nurses to be the unsung heroes of the medical industry. They work tirelessly, and often without thanks, to help ensure their patients are comfortable, cared for and safe. Unfortunately, they are human, which means that they can make medication mistakes that could lead to substantial harm or even death.

Some medication errors are more common than others

There is always potential for the odd-ball situation that leads to harm, but more often than not, a nursing medication mistake falls into one or more of the following categories:

  • Giving the wrong dosage
  • Giving the wrong medication
  • Giving a medication in the wrong manner
  • Giving a medication at the wrong time
  • Forgetting to give a scheduled dosage
  • Failing to adequately communicate with doctors
  • Making a medication preparation mistake

Any of these medication errors could put your life, or the life of someone you love, in jeopardy.

Some of the most common causes of medication mistakes

Researchers discovered the following commonalities among medication errors perpetrated by nurses:

  • Lacking appropriate knowledge about a medication
  • Distractions
  • Experiencing lapses in memory from one patient to another
  • Overworked
  • Failing to obtain all relevant patient information
  • Failing to follow proper procedures

This doesn't constitute an exhaustive list of the potential reasons why a medication error occurs. It merely identifies the most common ones. Nurses must remain diligent in order to avoid these issues in all areas of their work, but doing so may become especially important when it comes to dispensing medications.

Some information you may need after a medication error

Many sources will put part of the responsibility of avoiding medication errors on patients, but unless an error is glaring, there may be no way for you to tell that something is wrong until you suffer harm. The ultimate responsibility lies with the nurses and doctors attending to your care.

If you discover that a nurse assigned to you made a medication mistake, and you suffered harm because of it, you may be able to pursue compensation through the filing of a medical malpractice claim. Due to the complexity of these cases, you may want to make use of local legal resources to help you in your pursuit of the restitution you deserve.

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