The Top 10 Most Common Prescription Drug Errors

When you are prescribed a medication by a doctor, the last thing you should have to worry about is that an error will be made with that medication. Unfortunately, medical mistakes are a leading cause of death in this country, and prescription medication errors are a contributing factor to many of those mistakes. Prescription errors dramatically affect patient safety. Unfortunately, these errors are common but preventable events. In many cases, patients suffer no long-lasting harm due to medication errors, but that is not always the case. It is vital that patients understand the most common prescription drug errors that are made. An Orange County medication error lawyer can help.

1.      Prescriptions for medicine are omitted or delayed

Unfortunately, there are times when a patient does not receive their required medication or when receiving an urgent medication is delayed. This is often caused by a lack of communication between a physician, pharmacist, or nurse.

2.      Anticoagulant medication errors

Anticoagulants are incredibly helpful medications, but they have dangerous side effects when used improperly. These are blood thinners aimed at reducing the risk of blood clots in patients, but they also increase a patient’s risk for heavy bleeding.

3.      Opioid prescriptions

As has become evident over the last few years in the United States, opioid pain medication such as diamorphine, morphine, codeine, fentanyl, oxycodone, and methadone can lead to patient dependency and an increase in overdoses. Doctors must prescribe these medications only when necessary and continually monitor patient use once prescribed.

4.      Insulin issues

Insulin is used to help patients regulate their diabetes. However, an incorrect dosage of insulin can result in serious medical risks for a patient. Too much insulin can result in dangerously low blood sugar levels. Too little insulin could result in high blood sugar, which can have major health implications.

5.      Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs, are responsible for an incredible risk of hospital admission due to adverse drug reactions in patients, including heart attacks, strokes, kidney damage, and bleeding. Healthcare professionals must be careful when prescribing and using these medications, particularly for older people and those at higher risk of certain diseases.

6.      Failing to monitor certain medications

Many medications that are prescribed require continual monitoring through blood tests. This can include, but is not limited to, the following: opioids, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, clozapine, other benzodiazepines, digoxin, gentamicin, lithium, loop diuretics, clozapine, methotrexate and mirtazapine. Blood tests help monitor a patient’s health while also ensuring that the required dosage is being followed.

7.      Known allergies to medications

All too often, patients with known or documented allergies to certain medications are nonetheless exposed to them. This can cause a patient to suffer from preventable adverse drug reactions.

8.      Adverse drug interactions

There are many medications that should never be mixed with one another because they can cause extreme patient harm. Doctors and pharmacists should always be on the lookout for patients who have been prescribed medications that may negatively interact with (contraindicate) one another.

9.      Loading doses

Medications that require loading doses are complex. This is because these dosages require multi-step calculations using information about the patient, the medication in question, any dose changes, and administration frequency. If loading doses are miscalculated, additional dosing errors can occur, causing significant patient harm.

10. Oxygen use

In the healthcare profession, oxygen must be regarded as a drug. Oxygen is prescribed to patients who have low levels of oxygen in their blood, but the concentration of oxygen given depends on the condition being treated for each particular patient.