Health care providers are people we trust to solve our medical problems and to always put our best interest first. We have confidence that our doctors, nurses and pharmacists will provide the medications we need, often without question. While health care providers almost assuredly do have our best interest in mind, we must not be naïve to the possibility of human error. Unfortunately, in the field of health care, errors can have dire consequences. Prescription drug errors are responsible for the injury, sickness or death of 1.5 million Americans each year. As such, the federal and state governments are acting to reduce the occurrence of prescription drug errors.
Prescription drug errors can result from sloppy handwriting, improper labeling, distraction or failure to check for dangerous drug interactions. Errors may include the use of improper drugs or improper dosage. Electronic prescription and standardized barcode systems have been implemented in many hospitals to reduce the occurrence of improperly labeled or administered medications. State and federal governments are calling for more regulation to promote prescription drug safety.
A number of states have adopted laws or are considering bills that will require certain quality measures to prevent prescription drug errors. For instance, the State of Florida requires that prescriptions be legibly typed or written to make sure that instructions are clear to pharmacists. Many measures being implemented or considered by state governments involve the use of electronic medical records and electronic prescribing. Electronic records will presumably reduce room for error in transcription and provide easy access to patient histories and information on drug interactions. The Department of Health and Human Services has implemented an incentive program for physicians who utilize electronic prescribing for Medicare patients. In addition to governmental actions to reduce prescription drug errors, patients are encouraged to educate themselves on the medications they are prescribed. Additionally, patients should not be afraid to ask questions regarding their medications.
Prescription drug errors can have very serious consequences, including severe injury or even death. If you are a victim of a prescription drug error, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages.