Medication errors are an important type of preventable medical error that need to be more thoroughly and systematically addressed in the health care industry. Often, medication errors do not have serious long-term consequences for those who experience them, but in some cases they can cause serious consequences or even death.
Medication errors can occur in several ways. First of all, they do commonly occur at home, when a patient self-administers medication or when an adult provides medication to a child or other family member. There are a number of reasons these accidents can occur. According to researchers, many medication overdose cases involving children are caused by poorly designed medication labels and dosing tools.
One recent study found that providing parents with both textual and pictoral dosing instructions, more closely matching the dosing tool to the patient’s dose, and providing only one set of metrics on the dosing tool helped reduce the incidence of medication errors. The authors of the study noted that while it is a common assumption that over-the-counter children’s medications are not that dangerous if there is an overdose, the consequences for certain medications can be serious.
Medication errors can occur not only with parent administration of medication to children, but also with physician prescriptions, pharmacist fulfillment of prescription orders, and with nursing staff administration of medications to patients. Whenever these errors occur and serious harm results, the patient should consult with an experienced attorney to determine their options for holding the offending party accountable and seeking compensation.