When an individual is given the wrong medication or wrong dosage, it can lead to serious health consequences. Drug errors can take place in ordering, transcribing, dispensing or administering the medication. When drug mistakes are made, health complications, illness, medical emergencies or death are possible outcomes. The health providers responsible for the mistake can include doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, pharmacists and in some cases drug manufacturers.
Currently, one-third of all U.S. adults take five or more prescription drugs. Although many of these medicines improve the lives of patients, more prescribed drugs create a risk of serious side effects and dangerous drug interactions.
An Adverse Drug Event (ADE) is a term describing when a patient is harmed by a medication. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ADEs account for nearly 700,000 emergency department visits and 100,000 hospitalizations every year. In addition, ADEs affect five percent of all hospitalized patients, which is a frighteningly common type of inpatient error.
Outpatient care is considered even riskier when it comes to the possibility of ADEs. Estimates indicate that 50 percent of ADEs are preventable, and that half are caused by human error. Most are caused by commonly used medications that carry a high risk of adverse reaction in the patient. Half of all emergency department visits for Medicare patients are due to adverse events stemming from anti-diabetic agents such as insulin, oral anticoagulants such as Warfarin, and antiplatelet agents such as Aspirin.
Patients with the highest risk of suffering an ADE include:
Mistakes can occur in any setting and at any point along the line of drug administration. These steps include:
Recent studies have highlighted the role that fatigue plays in caregiver error. In a tragic Wisconsin case, fatigue contributed to a delivery nurse administering a lethal dose of bupivacaine-fentanyl (an epidural anesthetic) to a patient that was prescribed an antibiotic. The patient died within an hour. In another example of fatigue contributing to a preventable ADE, a nurse near the end of her 16-hour shift went to obtain furosemide (a medicine that treats fluid prevention and high blood pressure). Due to fatigue, she picked up a bottle of potassium chloride instead. The bottle was labeled correctly and the nurse even read the label of the bottle. Her cognitive function was allegedly inhibited, due to lack of sleep and she inadvertently gave the wrong medication to the patient, resulting in fatal arrhythmia.
Other factors that can contribute to medication errors include medical professionals who have a cluttered work environment, distractions occurring during drug administration, distractions while obtaining medication to administer, and medical professionals with long hours and heavy workloads, leading to fatigue.
If you or a loved one has suffered from medication errors, you need an attorney from The Colleran Firm on your side to protect your right to fair compensation. After suffering an injury, health condition or illness from drug errors, you may feel betrayed, confused and helpless.
We have been helping people with medical malpractice cases involving medication errors since 1995. We will review your case and advise you if we believe we that the evidence points to a case of medical malpractice.
We have recovered millions of dollars in settlements for our clients. When we take on a case, we pursue compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and other damages. Contact us today for a free consultation to get your questions answered. We are here to help you seek justice.