Medication Errors in Healthcare
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Hospitals have been trying to improve quality care and patients safety by implementing different strategies to prevent and reduce medical errors for past thirty years. Medical errors are the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer in America. In addition medical errors are costing our healthcare system an estimated $735 billion to $980 billion
Sometimes medical personnel, even those with long standing experience, may get it wrong when a new procedure or complex new equipment is introduced. Patients that are of extreme age could also fall victim of medical errors. Medical exigencies such as procedures that are complex or care that is urgent may influence decision making and cause errors. Inadequacy in communication like illegible hand writing may also lead to medical errors. In addition, improperly designed health care systems may contribute to medical errors just as inadequacy in the number of medical personnel could lead to medical errors. It is often difficult to establish accuracy of statistics of medical errors and their impact because they need to have caused a measurable damage to the patient before they can be admitted in evidence. However, statistics exist which show that the problem is rather severe worldwide. Estimates are that more than a hundred and forty thousand people died from the adverse consequences of medical errors worldwide in 2013. A report published in 2000 by the institute of medicine showed that almost 100,000 people died and about a million had undue injuries in the United States from damages as a result of medical errors
Interns and nursing students who are not well supervised by their superiors can make mistakes; in the former the prescription dosage may be inappropriate while in the latter, administration to patients may be incorrect or done at the wrong time. Santell et al (2003) prove through an internet based reporting system that 'performance deficit and procedure/protocol not followed were consistently identified as causes of error'.
Al-Assaf, A., Bumpus, L.J., Carter, D. & Dixon, S.B. (2003) 'Preventing Errors in Healthcare: A Call for Action', Hospital Topics, 81(3), pp. 5-13.
Singh H., Thomas, E.J., Petersen, L.A. & Studdert, D.M.(2007) 'Medical errors involving trainees: a study of closed malpractice claims from 5 insurers', Arch Intern Med. 2007 Oct 22;167(19):2030-6.
Santell JP, Hicks RW, McMeekin J, Cousins DD. (2003) 'Medication errors: experience of the United States Pharmacopeia (USP)
MEDMARX reporting system', J Clin Pharmacol. 2003 Jul;43(7):760-7.
Theorell T. & Bejerot E. (2011) 'Higher risk for medical errors reporting following reorganizations in health care', Lakartidningen, 108(48):2501-4.