Why Do Prescription Drug Errors Happen?

Drug ErrorsAnyone who has ever been forced to wait in line for a prescription knows that pharmacies are frequently busy places. Pharmacists and pharmacy techs work quickly, rapidly filling prescription after prescription.

How is it possible, you wonder, that they never make a mistake? Tragically, they do make mistakes, and probably more often than you think. If you have been injured by a pharmacist’s or doctor’s medication mistake, a Jacksonville medication error lawyer can help.

Prescription Errors Happen One Million Times a Year

Prescription mistakes happen in pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and hospitals all the time. In an average hospital, there is one medication error every day per admitted patient. Each year, there are about one million medication mistakes. These errors result in thousands of injuries and about 7,000 deaths every year.

Medication mistakes happen in several different ways. Some of the most common drug errors include:

  • Prescribing the Wrong Drug. Many doctors’ offices now use electronic prescription systems to order prescriptions digitally. These systems may make life easier for doctors and their patients, but they are not foolproof. In one case, a doctor selected “penicillamine” rather than “penicillin” from a computer’s drop-down drug list. The mistake resulted in a child’s hospitalization.
  • Dispensing the Wrong Dosage. When it comes to prescription medication, a single misplaced decimal point can mean the difference between life and death. In 2010, a four-month-old baby in England died after a doctor’s receptionist wrote down 5 milliliters instead of .5 milliliters on a prescription. Both the doctor and the pharmacist who filled the prescription missed the error. Tragically, other children and adults have died because of similar mistakes.
  • Failing to Catch Drug Interactions. When a patient takes multiple medications, there is always a possibility for a serious drug interaction. Although patients should always be straightforward and honest with health care providers about their health and the medications they’re taking, doctors and pharmacists also have a duty to check for possible drug interactions.
  • Failure to Provide Adequate Instructions. When physicians get busy, they can rush through a visit with a patient. In an effort to treat as many patients as possible, they can scribble out a prescription without instructing the patient on the proper dosage, when to take the medicine, and how to take it.

Minimizing Your Risk of a Prescription Drug-related Injury

Most people rely on doctors and pharmacists to perform their jobs with a high level of professionalism and competency. Although most health care workers are genuinely caring and skilled, they are still human.

As a patient, there are several things you can do to be proactive about your health and safety.

  • Communicate. Talk to your doctor and your pharmacist about your health, any medications you’re taking, and any questions you have. If you feel like no one is listening, consider getting a second opinion. Your health is too important to leave to chance.
  • Check Your Prescriptions. Before you ingest a prescription medication, check the dosage and the medication itself. If something doesn’t seem right, don’t hesitate to confirm the medication and the dosage with your doctor.
  • Try to Use One Pharmacy. When you fill prescriptions at multiple pharmacies, it’s difficult for them to check for drug interactions. If you must use different pharmacies for convenience or cost-savings, provide each pharmacy with a complete list of your medications.

Talk to a Jacksonville Medication Error Lawyer

Medication errors and medical negligence are far too common. If you have been injured by a prescription mistake, it’s important to act quickly. Contact a Jacksonville medication error lawyer about your case.

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