Controlled substances are only available after you receive a prescription from a doctor and when a pharmacist dispenses the drug or a healthcare professional administers it to you directly. These medications may pose a risk of addiction or abuse and could also cause dangerous side effects for some patients. Medical oversight is necessary to reduce the potential harm from mistakes or misuse of prescription drugs.
If you were to ask the average person, they might confidently tell you that the worst medication errors happen in people’s homes. They might picture someone doubling up on their pain pills or confusing two of their medications. While patients do sometimes make mistakes that affect their treatment, a surprising percentage of medication errors actually occur in professional medical settings.
Where in medical settings are medication-related mistakes likely to occur?
In the pharmacy
The pharmacist dispensing drugs and the technicians assisting them often have to fill dozens of prescriptions an hour. It would only take a momentary lapse in judgment or distraction to put the wrong medication into someone’s prescription file. That is also possible for someone to make a mistake in the dosage when compounding medication for intravenous IV administration.
The nurse’s station
In nursing homes and hospitals, staff members will distribute medication at the appropriate time to patients in their care. Unfortunately, nurses and other licensed professionals can make mistakes when sorting medication or might even forget to administer doses. They may also make mistakes when relaying information to or from a doctor that might affect the medication someone receives or their response to treatment.
In the patient’s room
Every other step in the process can go perfectly, only to have a hospital or nursing home staff member make a mistake when actually hanging up an IV bag or handing out pills to patients. Issues ranging from a slip of the fingers when inputting information into the IV device or distraction caused by another patient’s family member asking questions could lead to a patient receiving the wrong medication or receiving the right medication at the wrong timing intervals.
Medication mistakes can cause issues ranging from an overdose to dangerous drug interactions. When these mistakes occur in professional settings, the people affected may have a right to pursue a claim against the facility or professionals involved in their care. Pursuing a medical malpractice claim for a drug administration error can compensate you and the people you love for the financial impact of that mistake.