An old adage frequently used by medical malpractice lawyers is that a doctor’s first priority is “to do no harm.” Of course, each Chicago medical malpractice attorney at our firm is proud to help those who have been hurt by medical providers that did not meet that basic command to not make a patient’s situation even worse. We appreciate that there is a still a very long way to go before no patients are harmed by those who are actually supposed to make them well. From hospital acquired infections and surgical errors to delayed diagnoses and birth injuries, hundreds of thousands of medical patients are hurt each year because they did not receive the medical care to which they were entitled.
However, it is important not to overlook situations that present real risk to families that are related to medical treatment. Rising attention has been given to “medication errors” that cause serious injury or even death. As we’ve often explained, taking too much (or too little) of a potent drug has serious effects. That is true whether the mistake was made by a medical provider or the patient themselves. The young and old are most at risk. Young children and the elderly usually have particular physical vulnerabilities, and they are most likely to take incorrect dosages of medications.
When these errors are made by a medical provider, it can be an example of medical malpractice. However, more attention also needs to be paid to medication errors that are not caused by malpractice. In particular, medication poisoning is actually a growing problem, particularly for babies and young children.
A story last week from WebMD discussed the scope of the child medication poising problem. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, about 165 children under the age of five years old are rushed to the emergency room every single day as a result of unknowingly ingested dangerous pills. That amounts to 60,000 every year. Overall, in the last quarter century the percentage of poisoning deaths linked to accidental medication overdoses have nearly doubled. This is no doubt a product of the fact that there are now more medications in most homes than ever before. The more drugs increase the opportunity for young children to swallow the medicine unknowingly.
While prescription drugs might be the most potent, young children can also be hurt by over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies. It is important for parents to remember that each of these pills pose risks that need to be guarded against. The WebMD article offered some helpful quick tips for families to ensure these medication errors are avoided…
–All medications should be stored in locations that are both out of sight and out of reach of young children.
–Do not refer to medicine as “candy” to children, because they may take you at your word and not realize the seriousness of taking too much.
–Ensure that guests do not leave bags, purses, or pockets with medicine open and in reach of young children.
–Child-resistant caps should be closed and kept off counters at all times.
–If possible do not take medication in front of children who may be prone to imitate adults.
Our Illinois medical malpractice lawyers have worked with many families who have been hurt by people and products that were supposed to make them well. We urge all local residents to take basic steps to ensure that important medications never result in harm to themselves or loved ones.
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