Texas residents should be aware of the dangers they face due to potential errors involving prescription medications.
According to the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, as many as one and a half million people are affected by medication errors every year in the U.S. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, however, indicates that this number is not accurate. The FDA asserts that a large number of medication errors go completely unreported. For this reason, the full number of injuries associated with drug errors may be much higher than the 1.5 million figure cited by the AMCP.
Psychology Today notes that on a list that identifies the top causes of medical malpractice in the country, medication errors comes in at number four. That is among other forms of malpractice such as missed or incorrect diagnoses , inappropriate treatment regimes, surgical mistakes and more.
What can constitute a medication error?
The National Coordinating Council for Medication Error and Prevention defines mistakes involving medications as “preventable errors”. The emphasis on preventability is important.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information explains that errors introduced from the point of prescription to use fall into one of two categories.
A prescribing fault can occur when a physician makes an error in the prescription. This could pertain to the actual drug, the amount to be taken, the frequency with which it should be taken or anything else pertaining to the use of the drug.
A prescription fault can occur when a physician’s original orders are not followed. An example of this is when the wrong drug is given to a patient. Other error examples include the following:
- Giving a patient a medication to which the patient is allergic.
- Giving a patient a medication which is known to interfere with another drug also used by the patient.
- Providing inaccurate dosage information to a patient on a prescription label.
- Prescribing a medication that is not appropriate for a patient’s condition.
Sometimes errors can happen due to very simple causes. The inability to read a doctor’s handwriting can lead to the wrong medication being dispensed. So too can misunderstanding the pronunciation of a drug that is similar to that of another one.
The doctor may not always be the cause
Certainly physicians or others who write prescriptions can be at fault for medication errors. However, they are not the only professionals who could ultimately be responsible for these mistakes.
Pharmaceutical companies can be liable for errors if a problem stemmed from something related to the manufacturing of the drug. Pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, nurses, and certified nurses’ aides may also be involved.
Important information to Texans
Staying safe can be a matter of life and death when prescription drugs are involved. Anytime an error involving a medication is suspected, a Texas resident should reach out to an experienced lawyer for help.