What patients should know about medication errors

When people stay in a hospital, they rely on the staff members to give them the right medication. Sometimes, though, medication errors happen and these can be harmful for people’s health.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a medication error can result in hospitalization. Some people may develop a disability. Additionally, babies may develop a birth defect when pregnant women receive the wrong medicine. In some situations, people may die.

How do medication errors happen?

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, there are several steps that happen before a patient receives medication. A doctor has to choose which medicine to prescribe and decide which dosage is appropriate. A hospital clerk has to understand which medication the doctor has prescribed and enter this information correctly.

Next, the pharmacist has to dispense the correct dosage in the right form. Finally, nurses need to administer the medication to the patient at the specified intervals. A medication error can happen at any of these stages. A pharmacist may fail to ensure that two medicines will not react badly, for example.

Can hospitals prevent medication errors?

There are several ways that hospital staff members can make sure that patients receive the right prescription. Using a computer to write out prescriptions can help ensure that messy handwriting does not result in a mistake. Staff members should review medications before they transfer a patient to a new department within the hospital. This allows for clear communication among different care providers. Additionally, nurses should make sure that they do not experience distractions when they provide medication. Distractions may cause them to make an error.

Medication errors are one of the most preventable mistakes in a hospital setting. When staff members take the right precautions, they can ensure that these mistakes do not happen.

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