A 2006 study from the Institute of Medicine found that every year at least 1.5 million people suffer adverse consequences from preventable medication errors. Following the study's release, states like Colorado sprang into action by passing laws aimed at reducing the instances of medication error.
Medication error accounts for just five percent of all medical malpractice cases, but 39 percent of these cases lead to fatality. Improper dosage errors account for 41 percent of medication errors and are the leading cause of such mistakes. Elderly patients are most vulnerable to drug errors. Children are also susceptible to medicine overdoses because dosages are based on weight, and inaccurate dosing could have a stronger adverse effect on smaller body compositions.
Many health systems across the nation have put checks and balances into place to reduce medication errors. However, many drug mistakes still fall through the cracks. From poor communication to nursing error, there are several reasons why medical providers prescribe or administer the wrong prescription or an improper dosage to patients. In more serious cases, medication error is the result of negligence by multiple health care providers.
In the event of a medication error, doctors and medical support staff may try downplay its effect or even claim to have no knowledge of the error. In cases where drug mistakes result in personal injury, a worsened medical condition and even fatality, victims and their families have the right to pursue legal recourse and compensation. A competent attorney may be able to review patient medical records and look for any evidence of doctor error, nursing error or hospital negligence to build a strong medical malpractice case for victims and their families.
Source: The Washington Post, "Diagnostic errors are leading cause of successful malpractice claims", David Brown, April 22, 2013
Source: FDA, "Strategies to Reduce Medication Errors: Working to Improve Medication Safety", October 09, 2014