Taking medication prescribed by a doctor should make a person feel better. However, the wrong type or dosage of drugs can create serious problems.
Thus, avoiding medication errors should be a top priority for every Illinois physician, nurse, and hospital administrator. Unfortunately, mistakes happen. And they can happen more often when parties do not adequately address the factors that increase the risk of a medication error.
Four reasons medication errors occur
The following factors can increase the prevalence of preventable medication errors:
- Overworked physicians – Doctors who have too many patients may not spend more than a few minutes with each one. They may not have the time to discuss a patient’s medical history, medication list or symptoms. And medical professionals who are fatigued can experience cognitive decline. Consequently, they may be more likely to miss information or make poor decisions.
- Electronic medical records – Electronic medical records (EMR) aim to make medical documentation clearer, more accessible and easier to read than handwriting. Still, they contribute to medication errors. Unfamiliarity with the technology, typos and challenges integrating data from multiple systems can cause medication mistakes.
- Poor communication – A lot of communication must happen for a prescription to be safe and effective. Patients must express their history and symptoms clearly with their doctors; doctors must relay information to nurses and pharmacists; these parties must communicate back to the patient regarding when and how much of a drug to take. Miscommunication at any of these points can lead to a mistake.
- Insufficient knowledge of a drug – Medications that come on the market are generally safe unless they are misused or used with another medication, causing dangerous interactions. A lack of this knowledge can have devastating consequences for patients. Thus, medical workers must be informed regarding drug safety, recalls and warnings.
These factors can affect any patient at any Chicagoland hospital. However, they can be more common at facilities that do not take appropriate steps to prevent them.
Who is responsible?
Depending on the details of a medication error, multiple parties could be responsible. These parties could include:
- Drug manufacturers
Individuals could also be liable if they withheld information or failed to follow instructions.
However, if a third party is to blame, injured patients can pursue damages from the responsible parties.