Medication Errors Are Often Preventable

Millions of Americans, including many in Minnesota, are under doctors’ care that includes taking prescription drugs. These medications can alleviate pain, reduce the symptoms of a chronic condition or prevent certain conditions from becoming worse, among other important benefits. Prescription medications go through many steps before reaching the patient, and medication errors can occur at any time during the process, potentially placing the patient in grave danger.

In fact, as many as 9,000 people die each year from mistakes in their medication, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Most often, those mistakes occur when the doctor orders or documents the wrong medication for someone’s condition. However, others who handle the prescription may also make mistakes or otherwise act negligently, for example:

  • The technician who transcribes the prescription information to the label or instruction sheet
  • The pharmacist who is responsible for preparing the correct medication in the prescribed dosage
  • The health care professional who must administer the correct medication and dosage in a hospital or other facility
  • Those responsible for monitoring a patient’s prescriptions, both for potential interactions, allergies and damage to certain internal organs

Medical errors can involve omitting vital information, transcribing or administering the wrong dosage, or prescribing the wrong drug altogether. Almost 75% of medication errors are the result of medical professionals neglecting to pay attention to the important work in front of them, and others result from overworked professionals rushing the process. Any mistakes along the way can have catastrophic consequences, leaving patients in Minnesota and elsewhere with more serious medical conditions and even placing their lives in danger.

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