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The 3 Most Common Prescription Drug Errors

doctor writing on a prescription notepad

Common Ways Prescription Drug Errors Occur

As of 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acknowledged receiving more than 100,000 reports of medication errors annually. These errors can have many causes including, but not limited to, receiving the wrong medication, miscalculated dosages, and failure to identify potential drug interactions. This blog will discuss these three primary concerns and explain their dangers.

1. Receiving the Wrong Medication

A patient receiving the wrong medication is one of the leading ways prescription drug errors happen yearly. These can typically occur if a pharmacist fills a prescription incorrectly or if a nurse administers the wrong medication to the patient.

This can be incredibly dangerous for many reasons. For one, the patient may have drug allergies and go into anaphylactic shock or experience other harmful side effects; otherwise, it could potentially result in organ failure or even death.

2. Miscalculated Dosage

A miscalculated dosage (sometimes referred to as a dispensing error) is one of the most easily preventable causes of medication errors; however, these can easily go unnoticed. Most often, these occur when a pharmacist:

  • Doesn’t account for the patient’s weight and dispenses a higher dosage than necessary.
  • Uses the wrong units of measurement when dispensing medication.
  • Labels the prescription incorrectly, containing the wrong dosage and instructions for the patient.
  • Becomes distracted and puts more or fewer pills in the prescription than what is required.

Similar to receiving the wrong prescription, a patient receiving more or less medication than needed may open them up to a world of side effects. Not only does it potentially increase the risk of dependency and addiction issues, but it can also result in long-term adverse health effects.

3. Failure to Identify Potential Drug Interactions

Even if you only take Tylenol to manage pain, drug interactions must be considered when prescribing medications. As this error typically results from inadequate data, the patient bears the burden of knowing and reporting on which medications they are currently using. This includes vitamins and anything over-the-counter.

However, physicians also need to be aware of the potential contraindications (how a drug should not be used) and how certain drugs will interact with one another. Drug interactions can be harmful in that they may make a drug more or less effective or cause negative side effects on one’s health.

When a negligent medical provider causes you or a loved one harm, know that you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. Contact Hensley Cloninger & Greer, P.C. today to discuss your legal options. Call (828) 383-8414 or fill out this short form.

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