Preventing Dangerous Medication Errors

When it comes to dangerous medication errors, five rights can prevent a catastrophic wrong.

Preventable medical mistakes are an estimated third leading cause of death in the United States.  Drug errors are a common medical mistake.  According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, 1.5 million Americans suffer an adverse event from a medication error every year.  An adverse event is one in which a patient suffers harm.

Medication mistakes are also estimated to kill 7,000 U.S. patients annually.

A number of factors contribute to medication errors.  Poor communication between caregivers is a chief cause of dangerous drug mistakes. But carelessness during drug administration is by far the leading reason.

The “Five Rights” of drug administration were developed to help prevent medication errors and are a conventional protocol for healthcare providers to follow.  What are these proper steps to prevent medication errors?

1.    The first is to make sure the Right Medication is given.  Before administering medication, healthcare providers should check the drug packaging to confirm the drug matches the doctor’s orders.

Incorrect Drug Dosage and Patient Harm

2.    The Right Dose is critical for avoiding a serious drug error. So caregivers should check patient’s health records, the drug label and the doctor’s orders to confirm dosage levels before administering a drug to a patient.

3.    An incorrect administration schedule can cause patient suffering from a serious drug mistake.  It’s essential that all instructions are followed, schedules kept, and patients receive medication at the Right Time.

4.    Different medications are delivered in different ways.  The Right Route when administering drugs must be used. The doctor’s orders should match the patient’s status and the nature of the drug.  The patient must be able to safely take the drug in the prescribed route, and the drug also must be designed to be administered in the prescribed route.

Medication Given to the Wrong Patient

5.    The most critical of the five rights of drug administration is for healthcare providers to confirm they are giving medication to the Right Patient.  Patient records and patient wristbands should be checked and re-checked.  And, when possible, the patient should be asked to confirm his or her name prior to any drug being given.

When providing medical care, acknowledged standards like the Five Rights of drug administration must be adhered to or patients may needlessly be harmed.

If you lost a loved one or you were seriously injured while receiving medical treatment, an experienced medical malpractice lawyer can investigate to determine if an unacceptable, sub-standard level of care was responsible.

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

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog October 19, 2018