Risk Factors Associated with Medication Errors

person wearing a white lab coat writing on a prescription notepad placed next to a pill bottle

How Medication Errors Can Cause Long-Term Damage

In the past few years, medical malpractice claims due to medication error have made national headlines—most notably when a Tennessee nurse was convicted of two felonies in early 2022 after administering the wrong medication, which resulted in fatal injuries to the patient. Unfortunately, these kinds of mistakes result in millions of injuries each year, amounting to billions of dollars in medical costs.

While the financial burden of these errors is a tangible way to look at the issue, it's also important to address the long-term complications that may result. When a patient is given the wrong medication, or an incorrect dosage of their medication, it can cause serious health problems. To better understand this issue and its impacts, it’s essential to know what constitutes a medication error, how it can affect one’s health, and where to turn for help.

What Is a Medication Error?

A medication error is defined as "any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient, or consumer." In other words, it's a mistake that occurs during any point of the medication process—from prescription to administration.

There are many different ways that a medication error can occur. For example:

  • A doctor may prescribe the wrong medication for a patient's condition.
  • A pharmacist may dispense the wrong medication or the incorrect dosage.
  • A nurse may administer the wrong medication or the incorrect dosage.
  • A patient may take their medication incorrectly — either by taking too much or too little of the prescribed dosage.

How Can Medication Error Affect the Health of the Patient?

There are a number of ways that taking the wrong medication, or taking the correct medication in the wrong dosage, can affect a patient's health. Some of the more common risks include:

  • Allergic reactions: If a patient is allergic to a medication, even a small amount can cause serious and potentially life-threatening reactions.
  • Overdose: Taking too much of a medication can be just as dangerous as taking too little. An overdose can lead to organ damage, coma, and even death.
  • Underdose: If a patient doesn't take enough of their medication, it may not be effective in treating their condition. This could cause their condition to worsen or lead to other complications.

Medication errors can have a significant impact on patients. That's why it's so important for both medical professionals and patients to be aware of the risks involved. By taking precautions and being vigilant, we can help prevent these errors from occurring and avoid the devastating consequences that may result.

What to Do If You've Been Affected By a Medication Error

Because of the potentially fatal consequences associated with a medication error, it's important for a patient to seek medical attention as soon as possible after finding they were given an incorrect prescription or dosage. Time may very well be of the essence, so it's important to act quickly.

If you believe you or a loved one has been the victim of a medication error, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney. They can help you understand your legal rights and options and fight to get the compensation you deserve.

No one should have to suffer because of a preventable mistake. With the help of a skilled attorney, you can hold those responsible for your injuries accountable and get the justice - and the compensation - you deserve.

Contact our North Carolina team at Hensley Cloninger & Greer, P.C. today to discuss your legal options by calling (828) 383-8414. We have a long history of helping victims of medical malpractice recover compensation for their injuries.
 

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