Many New Jersey residents would be surprised to know the frequency at which medication errors occur. According to one recent study, more than 1.5 million medication errors occur annually. This number represents one patient receiving the wrong medicine or dosage every 21 seconds. Many patient advocates say that both the financial and health-related costs resulting from these mistakes are unacceptable.
Adverse drug reactions
Adverse drug reactions happen when the health of a patient suffers due to drug exposure. Experts say a large percentage of these negative reactions are avoidable. When adverse medicine reactions occur after a medical error by a physician or other medical professional, the actions may constitute medical malpractice.
The consequences of medication errors
A 2017 study found that the number of reported medical errors doubled from the year 2000 to 2012. The study’s researchers analyzed information gathered from calls to local poison control centers. Many of the complaints involved taking the wrong medicine or more medicine than needed. Some callers also expressed worries after taking their medication twice.
One in five medication errors reported to poison control centers involves heart medications. The consequences these medication errors can cause for patients range from minor discomfort to death. Some patients develop new conditions that can affect both their short- and long-term health conditions.
Medication errors are also costly to medical professionals and the hospitals that employ them. Doctors, nurses and pharmacists who become responsible for a patient receiving the wrong medication can experience damage to their careers. Both medical professionals and hospitals face financial liability when a medication error causes harm to a patient.
Patients demonstrate the trust they have for doctors when they agree to take the medications prescribed to them. A breach of this trust can cause injury and even death to the patient. Patients and families who suffer the negative effects of a medication error may benefit from an attorney consultation.