Most Common Medication Errors and How to Avoid Them

Most Common Medication Errors and How to Avoid Them

It’s frightening to think about the number of medication errors in hospitals and medical facilities across the country daily. These errors can lead to serious injury or death for patients and often result in medical malpractice lawsuits.

This article will discuss what medication errors are, how often they occur, and the most common types of errors. We will also talk about the symptoms of a medication error and what you should do if you experience one. Read on here.


What Are Medication Errors?

A medication error is defined as “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.”

In other words, it’s a mistake that occurs when a patient has been prescribed the wrong medication, given the wrong dosage of a medication, or given medication through the wrong route (such as oral instead of intravenous).

Medication errors can also occur when a patient is not properly monitored for side effects or drug interactions or when a medication is not prepared correctly.


How Often Do Medication Errors Occur?

Medication mistakes are quite common. These are rates and statistics regarding medication and prescription errors in the United States:

  • More than 7 million patients in the United States have medication mistakes every year.
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) receives over 100,000 medical mistakes reports every year.
  • Each year, medication mistakes result in the hospitalization of over 1.3 million people in the United States.


Most Common Types Of Medication Error

There are many different medication errors, but some are more common than others. Here are the most frequent types of medical mistakes:


Prescription Errors

Prescription errors happen because a healthcare provider wrote:

  • The wrong type of drug: This may occur due to similar spelling or similarity in sound.
  • The wrong route of administration: A drug’s method of administration is how it gets into a person’s body. Taking medicines incorrectly may reduce their effectiveness or cause damage.
  • The wrong dose: Error can happen either by giving a lower or excessive dose.
  • The wrong frequency: The frequency of a prescription determines how often you should take it.


Administration Errors

This type of error occurs when a patient is given the wrong type of drug, the wrong route of administration, the wrong dose, or the wrong frequency. For example, a patient may be prescribed the wrong medication for their condition, given an overdose of a medication, or not properly monitored for side effects.


Monitoring Errors

Failing to keep track of a patient to see how they respond to medications or knowing when to discontinue or switch drugs are examples of monitoring failures. Monitoring mistakes also include failing to notice or document a patient’s allergic response to medicines or drug interactions.


Drug Preparation Errors

Some prescription medicines must be prepared or reconstituted before giving to patients. A mistake in drug preparation is to dilute the solution with a diluent volume that is too large or too small. This kind of blunder is more likely when giving injections intravenously.


Symptoms Of Medication Errors

The symptoms of medical errors will depend on the type and severity of the medication error. Some common symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rash or hives
  • Itching
  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Headache


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