If you were to ask the average person, they would likely tell you that most medication errors are mistakes made by individuals who need medical care. They would probably assume that medical mistakes don’t happen in hospitals and other professional medical environments.
However, hundreds of medication mistakes occur in hospitals, nursing homes and similar facilities every day around the country. Some of these mistakes are minor, and some of them are very serious.
Giving someone the wrong drug
Perhaps the simplest mistake is that a nurse or other medical professional can make in a hospital would involve dispensing the wrong medication to a patient. When someone has to hand out dozens of pills in a short amount of time, they could give the wrong medication to the wrong person, especially if the pills are a similar shape, size or color.
Making mistakes about the timing of drug delivery
Whether a medical professional has to pass out pills or they have to program an IV drug delivery system, they could make mistakes about timing. Receiving medications too close together or too slowly can affect how well the medication works. It could also lead to an interaction with another drug or even cause an overdose.
Giving someone a medication without verifying their allergies or other drugs
On their own, medications can cause dangerous reactions in some people. When mixed with another drug, there are multiple ways for the drugs to affect each other’s performance. When a doctor, pharmacist or other medical professional gives someone medication without first verifying their allergies or what other drugs they take, they put that patient at risk of having an adverse reaction, interaction or allergic reaction.
Realizing that medication errors are one of the most common kinds of medical malpractice can help you be a more responsible patient or caregiver to a loved one in the hospital.