Medication Errors Made in Hospitals

hospital paperwork pixlr

Medication errors are the most common mistakes made at hospitals, according to a leading patient safety group, and it has a plan to remedy them.  However, the organization found that a significant number of hospitals don’t adhere to that plan.

The Leapfrog Group is a nonprofit consortium of healthcare safety experts that reviews U.S. hospitals for patient safety.  Twice a year it publishes patient safety grades, A through F, for hospitals in St. Louis and across the country.

The safety grades include 27 different criteria that fall under one of two categories:

·         Process/Structural Measures – how often a patient receives correct treatment and the environment, or organizational structure and culture, in which the treatment is delivered

·         Outcome Measures – what happens to hospital patients when they are treated, either good or bad

Hospital Medication Errors Contribute to 7,000 Deaths Per Year

According to the Leapfrog’s latest grades, Spring 2018, medication errors are the most frequent mistake made during hospital treatment.  Errors, such as the wrong dosage or the wrong drug, occur 1.5 million times in hospitals per year.  The group reports that medication errors made in hospitals cause 7,000 deaths annually.

So in addition to its hospital grades, Leapfrog this time published a focus for reducing drug errors in hospitals.  These standards center on the proper use of bar code technology that link patient records with proper medication treatment.

The group outlines a two-step process utilizing this bar code administration technology to reduce dangerous medication errors in hospitals. One healthcare provider scans the patient’s wristband, which includes the patient’s identity.  The next step is to scan the barcode on a prescribed drug.  The barcode will verify that it is the right medication in the right amount for the right patient.  The technology also can check a patient’s history for possible allergies to prescribed medications.

The good news is that most hospitals graded by Leapfrog have such systems in place.  The bad news?  Only one-third of them use them properly.  Hospitals that fail to use bar code administration technology typically don’t scan both the patient wristband and the drug’s bar code, according to the report.

St. Louis Hospital Patient Safety Grades

How did St. Louis area hospitals fare in the most recent patient safety grades?  The St. Louis area included 25 hospitals within a 25-mile radius of the Gateway City.  Less than a third – seven – received an overall grade of “A”.  Thirteen St. Louis area hospitals earned a “B,” four were given a “C,” and one facility had a “D” on its report card.

In terms of medication errors, the scores for St. Louis hospitals ranged from 5 out of a possible 100 to the full 100 points.

The overall grades also included scoring for hospital-acquired infections, surgical errors, patient falls, and communication between doctors.  All are major causes of preventable harm that hospital patients can suffer.

But the leading cause of patient harm in hospitals remains medication errors.  It is concerning that so many hospitals don’t follow basic guidelines to prevent them and, ultimately, needless patient deaths.

If you lost a family member while being treated in a hospital, avoidable medical errors may have been the cause.  Consult an experienced medical malpractice attorney to review your case.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted in Articles April 30, 2018

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