Hospitals avoid technology to help prevent medication errors

Even the smallest medication errors can have catastrophic consequences for Charleston, West Virginia patients. For example, if a doctor accidentally prescribes their patient 10.0 mg of the drug Colchicines instead of 1.0 mg, this small decimal error could cause excruciating abdominal pain and burning in the mouth and throat, says the Huffington Post. As a result of this wrong dosage, the patient's internal organs would begin to erode causing death within 24 to 72 hours.

Unfortunately, medication errors like this one are common and hospitals aren't doing their part to prevent them. According to a study published in Health Services Research , the researchers discovered that approximately one percent of all ambulatory health care visits for adults were related to medications. Although this one percent may not originally seem significant, it adds up to be about 4.5 million doctor visits a year due to medication errors. In addition to these injuries, medication errors cause approximately 7,000 deaths annually.

Hospitals forgo technological advancement

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, investing in technology known as Computerized Physician Order Entry can significantly reduce the frequency of medication errors. While using the CPOE system, a physician would have instant access to a patient's clinical conditions, allergies and any other information that would contribute to helping the doctor prescribe a correct dosage of a medication. These systems also:

  • Alert the physician to any errors, like a misplaced decimal.
  • Sends prescriptions electronically to the pharmacy.
  • Eliminates the need for pharmacists to decipher physician handwriting.

Research suggests that with the implementation of a CPOE system, medication errors can be reduced by 85 percent. However, according to the Huffington Post, hospitals lag when it comes to investing in technology like this because they can easily put the cost of these errors on the patients that endure them.

Preventing medication errors

Because hospitals and other medical institutions often lack necessary technology to prevent these errors, the burden is placed on the shoulders of the patient. Patients prescribed a medication should talk with their doctor to ensure that they are aware of every medication they are currently taking, ask for basic information about what the medicine does and what it's for and confirm with their pharmacy that the medication they receive is actually the one that their doctor prescribed.

Unfortunately, despite patient diligence, medication errors are still a serious problem for many. If you were prescribed an incorrect medication or dosage by your medical provider and suffered adverse effects, contact an attorney that can protect your legal rights to proper compensation.