Report shows many patients are at serious medication error risk

A new report paints a grave picture for patients in Pennsylvania and beyond: many dangerous and common errors happen at hospitals that put patients in jeopardy of suffering injuries or death. Each year, more than 200,000 individuals pass away from errors in hospitals and health care facilities.

Topping the list of preventable death causes were patient falls, bedsores, adverse drug reactions, and injections in the hospital. Hospitals and physicians are expected to adhere to a standard duty of care with each individual patient. Cutting corners or failing to properly review a patient’s history and condition sometimes prove to have deadly consequences.

One big focus in the report was reducing medication errors, which can suddenly end the life of an otherwise improving patient. Patients expect their medications to be delivered properly and safely by trained personnel. When this doesn’t happen, or when an employee fails to properly read the doctor’s handwriting in the medical history, a patient can actually be hurt by medication that they expect will help their condition. Related wrongful deaths can be especially hard for family members to cope with because medication error fatalities are generally preventable.

Some hospitals are already making strides in the right direction with regard to reducing medication errors. For example, some require employees dispensing medication to wear specially colored clothing to indicate a “do not disturb” status that is geared toward reducing errors and distractions. As the report shows, however, there is still a lot of room for improvement across the country in terms of decreasing these errors and protecting the lives of patients.

When medication errors do occur, despite the preventative measures in place, it is a good idea for those harmed to learn about their rights. A medical malpractice attorney may be able to help in such situations. 

Source: Sierra Sun Times, “U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer releases new report on medical errors,” April 26, 2014