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What constitutes a medication error?

Older readers will remember the commercial tagline "Without chemicals, life itself would be impossible." Monsanto put it out there back in the 1970s. These days, with all the attention on the environment and the effects of human activity upon it, many might be inclined to take a dim view of chemical production. However, that Monsanto line still carries some weight, especially when you consider how necessary chemicals are in the making of medications.

Pharmaceutical products help heal human ailments from the inside out and outside in. But if they are prescribed or administered improperly, what should be life restoring treatment can be life changing or even life ending.

Medication errors are preventable by definition

To eliminate any question, here is how the National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention (NCC MERP) defines the issue.

"A medication error is any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient, or consumer."

NCC MERP says that the possible preventable event can occur at any point along the medication continuum – from manufacturing, compounding, labeling and packaging to dispensing and communicating. That means the list of individuals or entities potentially liable for an error is long. Ensuring optimal compensation when errors occur can thus be frustratingly complicated without an experienced attorney's help.

Further, the organization cites experts who estimate that nearly 100,000 Americans die every year due to medical errors made in hospitals. Everyone would agree that hospitals are the last place such mistakes should occur.

It may be true that without chemicals, life itself would be impossible. But that also requires that those who prescribe and administer the associated medical treatments do so exercising a clear duty of care. If that duty is breached, victims need to know their rights and legal options.

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