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Medication Errors Archives

Possible causes of dosage errors

When drugs are in short supply in Colorado, it can lead to patients receiving incorrect dosages of prescribed medications. One example of this is when a healthcare organization discovered that the hospitals it controlled were running short of potassium acetate in 2 mEq/mL dosages. To make up for the shortfall, the group began ordering potassium acetate in larger dosages. When the new medication was entered into the organization's database, it was not marked as having a different dosage, leading to hospital workers administering the wrong amount of medication to patients.

Blood Thinners Account for 7% of Hospital Medication Errors

Millions of hospitalized Americans every year receive short term anticoagulant or antiplatelet treatments to stabilize acute coronary syndromes and prevent embolisms that might otherwise result in heart attacks, stroke or death. New research is demonstrating, however, that blood thinners like heparin and coumadin are often administered incorrectly. According to a study that appears in the May issue of "The Annals of Pharmacotherapy," medication errors involving blood thinners account for fully seven percent of all medication errors in clinical settings.

Medication errors common cause for elderly hospital readmission

Elderly residents of Colorado may be shocked by the results of a study showing that readmission following a hospital stay is a common occurrence. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study found a readmission rate of one elderly patient out of every eight discharged from a hospital. This outcome has led some medical centers to reduce the risk of complications following discharge by establishing care coordinators. Patients in other facilities must often rely on state-run assistance programs or family for care coordination.

Patients can be proactive in helping stop medication errors

There are procedures in place in hospitals to ensure that patients get the correct medication. However, patients in Colorado can also take control of their own health care by being aware of the medications they are taking and being honest about their use of over-the-counter drugs, herbal supplements, vitamins and recreational drugs. These efforts and disclosures may help in preventing medication errors.Another way patients can be proactive in helping themselves and their doctors is to keep a list of all medications being taken on a small card and carry it at all times. Having this information on hand is invaluable to caregivers and emergency room staff as it is an easy way for them to know what medications the patient is taking. This simple step can help avoid contraindicated or duplicate drugs from being administered.

New course seeks to lower risks of pain management

The Colorado School of Public Health has created an online program called "The Opioid Crisis: Guidelines and Tools for Improving Chronic Pain Management." Intended to combat the problem of medication errors related to overdoses and unintentional deaths from prescribed opioids, the program is being endorsed by the Colorado Medical Society, or COPIC, a provider of medical malpractice insurance in Colorado. Statistics from the Robert Johnson Foundation indicate that over 80 people die each day from unintended opioid medication overdoses. The program's online training course not only offers tools that target the epidemic of opioid abuse, but it also provides guidelines for assessing possible addiction risks in patients who have pain that is chronic but not cancer-related and provides access to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, or PDMP. There is also a calculator that estimates the dose of opioids taken by a patient.

New Hampshire radiologist accused of medical malpractice

The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists and Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire face lawsuits because a radiologist stole syringes filled with fentanyl and injected himself with the painkiller. It is also alleged that he refilled the used syringes with saline and that they were used to inject patients. The radiologist suffered from hepatitis and now at least 32 patients have been diagnosed with his strain of the virus. Medication errors like this one may be of interest to Colorado residents because AART is a national organization and this radiologist could've been hired by a Colorado hospital. At least two patients are including ARRT in their lawsuits, because they claim the organization failed to investigate a complaint against the radiologist in Arizona. They continued to credential him, which allowed him to be hired by Exeter. The Arizona hospital fired him after he was discovered unconscious in the hospital locker room with needles and syringes in his possession.

Study shows more than 3,000 errors with electronic health records

Denver readers may be interested in a study that found more than 3,000 incidents of errors in Electronic Health Records (EHR). The study shows an increase of double the number of health safety issues in a one year period. Sixteen cases in question were noted as causing "some kind" of harm. However, only one medication error was considered to have caused significant harm.

Pharmacists in the ER cut down medication errors

An abstract of a study, recently presented at the American Society of Health Systems-Pharmacists meeting, indicates that having a pharmacy team in the emergency department of a hospital can significantly cut down on the number of medical errors caused by incorrect medications or dosages. Among the 185 patients studied prior to the arrival of a pharmacy team in the emergency department, there were 1,750 discrepancies. The most common disparity, occurring in 55 percent of cases, was failures in collecting information on the date and time of the last dosage. A smaller percentage included incorrect orders and omissions. After a pharmacy team was placed in the emergency room, a total of 25 errors occurred. This is a significant drop when compared to the control group, which had 425 errors.

Could government regulators have prevented meningitis outbreak?

The recent nationwide outbreak of meningitis was traced to a compounding pharmacy that distributed tainted injections, but further evidence shows that government regulators may also have been lax in their oversight of the pharmacy. In fact, Colorado regulators were the first to raise the alarm about these medication errors months before about unsafe injections that could lead to illness or death of victims.Colorado pharmacy regulators filed a complaint about the company in July 2012, alleging that the pharmacy had violated terms of its license. Specifically, Colorado officials stated that the pharmacy was not using patient-specific prescriptions to distribute medications to hospitals in our state.

Compounding drug companies rarely punished

It is not unusual to hear of a doctor or hospital being sued over medication errors, but compounding pharmacies rarely receive tough sanctions. In many cases, these pharmacies are not penalized at all for their mistakes, negligence or lack of attention that leads to terrible consequences for patients.Compounding pharmacies are companies that mix formulations for specialized drugs. They use the raw ingredients to craft mixtures that are used in the treatment of many diseases. There have been at least 200 events concerning 71 discrete products noted by the FDA since 1990 that were the direct result of errors or negligence by compound pharmacies. In many cases, despite the government's knowledge of these problems, the companies were shut down by lawsuits that resulted in large judgments against the companies rather than government intervention.

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