Medication Administration Errors in Hospitals

According to some estimates, mistakes in dispensing drugs to hospital patients occur 1 million times each year, and contribute to 7,000 hospital patient deaths annually.

Acknowledging the seriousness of this preventable hospital negligence, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS), the federal agency responsible for administering Medicare, recently updated its recommendations to hospital administrators for the safe delivery of drugs during hospital stays. In its directive, CMMS states that medication errors account for one third of all hospital “adverse events.” The report also notes that medication errors can unnecessarily lengthen hospital stays up to 4 days.

Five “Rights” for Proper Medication Delivery in Hospitals

The organization’s revised guidelines outline the following five “rights” for proper medication administration in hospitals:

  • The Right Patient – the patient’s identity must be checked and confirmed by numerous sources, such as wristband and by the patient himself
  • The Right Medication – medical care providers should make sure the drug given to a patient matches the patient’s prescription and that the patient is not allergic to the medication
  • The Right Dose – doctors and nurses must check to make sure the prescribed dose is safe, and that the dosage given to the patience matches the prescription
  • The Right Route – however the medication is given, either orally, intravenously or some other way, the medical staff must be certain it is appropriate for the patient’s condition and the drug itself
  • The Right Time – all medications must be given to hospital patients at the right time and at the prescribed frequency

Five Stages of Hospital Medication Process

These five rights pertain to the actual administration of the drug to the patient, which is one of only one of five stages in the medication process. The others stages are:

  • Ordering and prescribing medications
  • Transcribing and verifying medication prescriptions
  • Dispensing and delivering drugs
  • Monitoring and reporting patient’s condition

Unfortunately, healthcare providers can make mistakes anywhere along this medication process.

If you believe a loved one has been a victim of a medication error during a hospital stay, you may want to consult an attorney who can determine what went wrong and work to receive compensation from those responsible.