Georgia patients might not know that medication errors are behind 2% to 5% of all hospital admissions throughout the world, and 30% of those admitted suffer some harm related to the error. Among these, 7% suffer serious harm. Every year across the country, around 7 million people are subject to preventable medication errors.

To reduce medication errors requires collaboration between health care professionals of different disciplines. Pharmacists, whose training is centered on medication and who hold unique relationships to their patients, must lead the way in these efforts. First, though, it’s a good thing to know what sort of factors raise the risk for a medication error.

Doctors are more likely to commit an error when the patient is elderly, has a complex medication regimen or suffers from a condition like renal failure or from one or more chronic diseases. Another risk factor is the use of high-risk, or high-alert, medications, which are drugs that are liable to cause severe injuries in the event of an error.

What counts as a high-risk medication may vary based on the environment in which pharmacists work, but opioids, antimicrobials, anticoagulants, insulin and antineoplastics usually qualify. Access to these should be limited, and pharmacists must thoroughly educate patients on how to take these drugs, especially if they are already taking multiple drugs.

If health care professionals do not live up to the generally accepted standards of care, then they may have committed negligence. When negligence results in harm, the patient may want to file a medical malpractice claim with the assistance of an experienced attorney, seeking compensation for the losses that have been incurred.