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Medication Errors Costs Top $2 Billion Each Year

Institute of Medicine statistics show that 1,500,000 injuries and over 7,000 wrongful deaths each year are directly attributable to preventable medication errors. That places what the health care industry calls “Preventable Adverse Drug Events” as the 5th leading cause of nonfatal injury annually. The costs to American healthcare are over the $2 billion mark as of 2011 – a figure that does not include the costs of those errors on the patients suffering the consequences.

An ECRI Institute Patient Safety Organization study found that the majority of medication errors were made during the administration phase. That is to say the errors were not made while diagnosing illness and selecting the right drug for treatment. They were made when the drug was administered to the patient, via user error on the part of often hurried medical staff.

A 2009 study identified the three leading causes of errors in medication administration:

  • Manual programming errors on infusion devices, delivering the wrong drug or dosage to the patient.
  • Delivering the wrong medication to a particular patient.
  • Tampering with the administration process by unauthorized individuals.
  • Unanticipated interactions between multiple drugs used by the same patient.

ECRI’s Patient Safety Organization recommends health care professionals adopt a variety of methods to minimize these preventable errors. These include pharmacist oversight of IV solutions, error reduction technology in infusion pumps and simplified systems of delivery to prevent worker confusion. The recommendations emphasized intravenous infusion machines, since those machines accounted for over one-third of all medication administration errors.

Sometimes, bad things happen and it’s nobody’s fault. However, it is the responsibility of medical professionals and facilities to avoid making a situation worse through preventable error. Whether that mistake was due to an individual’s lack of care, or an organization’s systemic errors, our team of medical malpractice lawyers in Michigan can help you hold them accountable for the harm their mistake caused your family. Call our office now at (800) 606-1717 if you or a family member suffer injuries or have lost a loved one due to medication errors.

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