Residents of Tennessee should know the facts about medical malpractice. Medical errors account for over 95,000 deaths in America annually. That’s actually more than serious diseases like AIDS and traumatic events like car collisions. Some of the most common errors in medicine are related to medication. Whether it’s a doctor prescribing the wrong dose or an error at the pharmacy, medication errors can have big consequences.
Advances in error prevention
One of the longest-running jokes in medicine used to be about doctors’ handwriting and how difficult it was to decipher. Today, orders for medication aren’t handwritten; instead, they’re submitted digitally. This has removed one major source of medication errors. Additionally, in some institutions, a nurse will read medication orders back to the doctor. This procedure can help eliminate transcription errors.
New procedures in hospitals have also helped prevent medication problems. For example, before giving medications, nurses must confirm three pieces of information about a patient. This keeps them from giving the wrong drug to the wrong person. However, if a critical factor like the dose is wrong, confirming someone’s name and date of birth won’t help.
Over 7,000 Americans die due to taking the wrong medication each year. Some of the most common reasons for this include miscommunication on the part of medical providers. For example, a doctor who doesn’t ask good questions and get a thorough patient history could be setting patients up for a problem. This is something that could be considered negligent. Honest mistakes happen in every line of work, including medicine, but negligence can be a sign of medical malpractice.
What you can do
As a patient, ask questions about any medications you’re prescribed. Have all of your prescriptions filled at one pharmacy, if possible, to get to know the staff. An alert pharmacist may notice if anything you’re taking will interact with another medication. You should also educate yourself on the medications you receive before taking them by reading the literature you get at the pharmacy.