Medication errors made at home are rising rapidly

A recent study says that medication errors that occur at home have more than doubled since 2000.

A recent study has found that medication errors made at home are rising rapidly. According to NPR, the number of such errors more than doubled between 2000 and 2012 and led to more than 400 deaths. Most at-home medication errors are a result of taking the wrong dosage, either because the patient made a mistake or because they were given the incorrect instructions or dosage amount by a pharmacist. Analysts say that while medication errors that occur at home is a serious and growing problem, it is also a little-studied one.

At-home errors double

The study, published in the journal Clinical Toxicology, found that in 2000 there were 3,065 cases of serious medication errors that occurred outside of healthcare facilities. By 2012, that figure had more than doubled to 6,855. In total, the study found that 67,000 such medication errors occurred over the 13-year period that was studied, with 414 people dying because of these errors.

While at-home medication errors represent only a fraction of the approximately 1.3 million medication errors that occur annually, their rapid growth is alarming. Furthermore, it is widely believed that medication errors that occur at home are underreported. About a third of at-home errors that are reported result in hospitalization.

Dosage errors common

The main cause of at-home medication errors is taking or being given the incorrect dose. Taking the incorrect dose can happen for a number of reasons, such as a person forgetting they have already taken a pill and thus ending up taking an extra dose or because directions for taking medication may be unclear or wrong. Medication errors involving children often occur because they confuse an adult's pill with their own. In other cases, the pharmacist may have made an error and provided the patient with the incorrect dosage.

As the Washington Post reports, the rapid rise in at-home medication errors has led to calls for drug labelling and instructions to be made clearer. Additionally, parents can do more to ensure their children do not take the wrong pills, such as by having a child-proof (and not just child-resistant) pillbox and always supervising children with their medication. The study concluded that children aged 6 to 12 were the most likely to take or be given an incorrect dosage.

Medical malpractice law

Medication errors are just one type of medical error that can cause injury, illness, or even death. Anybody who has been hurt because of a medical error, especially when that error may have been the result of a healthcare professional's negligence, should contact a medical malpractice attorney today. An experienced attorney can help clients protect their rights and pursue whatever compensation they may be entitled to.