Poisoning is now second only to car accidents in the number of deaths caused, and 91% of accidental poisoning deaths are due to drugs, mostly prescription painkillers.
Pharmacy errors, also called prescription errors or medication errors are among the most serious and common medical errors. They are also on the rise, partly because Americans are taking more and more medications. About 82% of Americans are on at least one prescription medication, while 29% take five or more prescriptions at the same time. These prescriptions carry a high risk for errors and other serious injury, called “adverse drug events” (ADE).
In fact, poisoning is now second only to car accidents in the number of deaths caused, and 91% of accidental poisoning deaths are due to drugs, mostly prescription painkillers. But unlike car accidents, the number of poisoning deaths continues to grow.
How Common Are Pharmacy Errors?
Pharmacy errors are very common, one of the most common forms of medical malpractice. It is estimated that there are about 1.25 million medication errors in the US every year, and perhaps as many as 1 in 5 medications administered in a hospital is given in error. Most of these errors involve giving a dose at the wrong time, which can result in an overdose or underdose. The second most common error is omitting a dose.
Pharmacy errors represent a significant fraction of fatal ADEs. In 2006, fatal ADEs killed about 15,000 people, more than double the rate in 1998 (7,000). Overall, the cost of preventable medical errors is at least $22 billion, much of which is passed on to the victim in terms of lost wages, additional medical costs, and death or lasting disability.
Preventing Pharmacy Errors
Up to 77% of medication errors are preventable. In fact, new technologies and best practices have been introduced that experts estimate could reduce medication errors by 50-86%. But they only work if used properly. If you or a loved one has been hurt by a preventable pharmacy error, your lawsuit could get compensation for you and remind doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers of the importance of following best practices to protect patients.