Top 3 Most Common Medication Errors and How to Prevent Them

Posted in: Medical Malpractice | Jan 04,2020

Medication errors are some of the most common medical errors, affecting as many as 1.3 million Americans every year.

Medication errors refer to errors that involve the prescribing and dispensing of medication to patients. These errors can involve any of the following:

  1. Giving the wrong dosage of the medication
  2. Giving the wrong medication
  3. Using the incorrect route of administration – for example, some drugs are only meant be administered intravenously, while others may only be orally administered.

The most common medication error in the United States is administering the wrong dose to the patient. In the United States, these errors account for 43 percent of all fatalities linked to medication errors.  The exact dosage of a medication is very important, and it’s crucial to stick to the prescribed dosage for your medical condition, age, weight, and medical history.  Medications are prescribed based on these factors, and when the wrong dosage or an excessive dosage is administered, it can cause complications that may be serious enough to result in death.

The second most common medication error is administering the wrong medication. Some drugs have very similar names. When health care providers fail to read labels on the bottle or box carefully, they may be at risk of making errors that are very serious, and can cause long term damage to the patient.  These errors account for 16 percent of medication errors.

Using the wrong route of administration is also blamed for 16 percent of all medication errors. Some drugs are only meant be taken orally. Administering a drug that is meant for oral ingestion intravenously, can cause serious harm to a patient.  Death can also occur, although the more common outcomes involve extended hospital stay and psychological damage.

As an informed patient, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of such errors.

Know the names of all the medications that you have been prescribed. If you experience side effects after taking the medication, inform your health care provider, right way. Don’t assume that this is just your body getting used to the drug.  Make sure that your healthcare provider is aware of all the medications you are currently on, including topical ointments and creams, over- the -counter medications, allergy medications and herbal supplements. Ingredients in these medications can interact with the drugs prescribed by your physicians, leading to potentially serious complications.