This weekend we reported on the staggering scope of the problem of medication errors. The toll that these mistakes have on healthcare throughout the country cannot be exaggerated. In fact, according to a new article at AMED News, more people are rushed to the emergency room each year from medication errors (or “adverse drug events”) than for things like pneumonia and strep throat.
In total, there are about 4.5 million outpatient visits annually related to problem with medication. Of that amount, about 400,000 of those mistakes require hospitalization and extended extra treatment. One doctor involved in the study highlighted the problem, noting, “It’s scary just to think about the number of patients who are coming in with adverse drug events-and it could be the tip of the iceberg because there is a whole group of patients with problems who are not coming in.”
The mistakes most often affect seniors and those taking multiple pills in a single day. Specifically, the latest report found that patients over 65 were twice as likely as all others to experience problems. Also, those taking six drugs or more had high odds of being hospitalized for medication problems.
Prevention of these mistakes may come in various ways. Errors caused by hospital staff members can be prevented with more use of checklists and other procedures to ensure that the right type and amount of medication is given at all times. Doctors must also be sure to continually monitor their patients’ drug-drug and drug-disease interactions to ensure that they do not pose risks. Also, it is important for each patient to understand exactly when and how much of their pills they should take while at home.
The sheer number of Illinois medication errors should be taken seriously by all those in the medical field. Patients face enough struggles with their actual medical problems, let alone complications that are caused by the very things that are supposed to make them well. Our Illinois medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti urge all those who may have suffered because of a preventable medication error to contact our office and share your story.
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