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The most common causes of medication errors

For many of those clients with whom we work here at the offices of DeLuca and Weizenbaum, the damaged trust between themselves and their health care providers following a medication mistake is the hardest thing they have to deal with. Learning to be an active participant in one’s own care can help to avoid such accidents. If one knows the root causes of most medication errors, then he or she may be more mindful when dealing with them. We’ll examine those causes in this post.

American Nurse Today reports that every year, 1.5 million Americans suffer as the result of a medication error. Multiple case studies involving prescription drug errors have shown that the most common causes of these mistakes are:

  •          Incorrect dosages or dosage strengths
  •          Medications taken by the wrong route of administration
  •          Incorrect medications being given

While many of these mistakes can be attributed to patient error, a number of them also arise as the result of doctors overlooking patient allergies in their medical records or failing to effectively communicate a prescription to the pharmacy. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians have also been guilty of misinterpreting doctor orders and giving out the wrong medication. In other cases, they may give out advice to patients without first consulting with their physicians.

Patients can help avoid such errors from happening by knowing what medications they’re allergic to and reaffirming that to their doctors during every visit. They are also advised to listen only their doctors’ instructions on how often to take their medications, how much they should take, and how those medications should be administered.

For more information on avoiding potentially dangerous drug reactions, visit our Medication Errors page. 

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