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Lowering the Risks of Medication Errors in ERs

Posted on in Wrongful Death

Illinois personal injury lawyer, Illinois medical malpractice attorney, wrongful death, Every year, according to the Institute of Medicine, there are more than 7,000 people killed because they were given the incorrect medication while they were in the hospital. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies these errors as Adverse Drug Reactions (ADR). According to the agency, multiple studies have concluded that the number of incidents of ADRs is actually much higher than previously reported. The number of hospitalized patients who suffer ADR injuries is more than 2 million every year, resulting in more than 106,000 deaths. If these figures are accurate, it places ADRs as the number four cause of death in this country, killing more people than AIDS, automobile accidents, diabetes, pneumonia, and pulmonary disease.

Some of the causes of medication errors include not being able to read a physician’s handwriting, drugs having similar names, confusion in dosing units, and poor package design.

In an effort to minimize the risks of ADRs, some hospitals have begun placing pharmacists directly in emergency rooms. Every dose of medication that is given to a patient must first go through the emergency room pharmacist. He or she reviews each prescription to make sure that the medication being given to the patient is the correct one and that the dose is the appropriate one for the patient it is being prescribed to.

According to ADR statistics, children are especially vulnerable to being given incorrect medication. ADRs occur three times more often with children than they do with adult patients, often because the metabolic rate of the child has been overlooked by the physician when prescribing the medication.

The use of electronic records by hospitals has also contributed to the number of ADRs which occur. In one study, which was published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, researchers found that 25 percent of the prescriptions written for children in an electronic record were incorrect; and 10 percent of adult prescriptions had errors.

If you or someone in your family has been injured or become ill due to a medication error caused by medical personnel, contact a Lake County medical malpractice attorney today to find out what legal recourse you may have.

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