Studies have shown that approximately 1.3 million Americans are injured by prescription drug errors each year. Although systems to detect medication errors are stronger than ever before, a staggering number are harmed each and every day.
An FDA study found that approximately 41 percent of fatalities are caused by dosage errors. Dosage errors can occur when digits are misread or measuring systems are confused. For example, a dose may indicate 1 teaspoon, but the pharmacist may accidentally label the bottle as 1 tablespoon per dose. A nurse may give a patient ten times the prescribed dose of insulin if they mistake the letter ‘u’ for unit with a zero on the prescription pad.
Another common error involves the failure to detect contraindications to medications based on the condition of the patient, or potential drug interactions. Some patients with heart trouble, for example, cannot take certain medications. If a doctor fails to read a patient’s chart thoroughly and does not discover the heart issue, they may prescribe a potentially dangerous medication. Pharmacists must check over a patient’s other medications as well, to ensure that there will be no potentially harmful interactions.
How can I prevent prescription errors?
Be an informed patient! If a doctor prescribes you a medication, ask the name and dosage of the medication. Make sure that it matches what you pick up from the pharmacy. Whenever possible, use the same doctor and the same pharmacy. This ensures that your records remain constant and your doctor and pharmacist have the greatest ability to track for any possible interactions or contraindications. Always double check prescriptions after you pick them up at the pharmacy. Make sure your name is on the bottle, and that the name and dosage match what your physician prescribed. Note that some medications may come in a generic form. If you are unsure, take a moment and ask your pharmacist. Also, some medications have a description of the pill that should be inside the bottle. It’s always good to double-check.
A prescription error caused me harm. Do I have a case?
If you have been harmed by a prescription drug error, you may have a case. Contact an experienced Oregon medical malpractice attorney for a free consultation about your situation. And remember- we charge no attorney fees unless we win your case! You can rest assured that Angel Law, PC, will put you and your needs first.