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New York Attorneys for Nursing Errors Medication Errors

What is a Medication Error?

According to the Institute of Medicine, many individuals “die every year in hospitals due to preventable medical errors.”  As horrifying as it sounds, a statement like makes many of us nervous about seeking qualified and appropriate medical care and attention. Yet, so many of us have no other choice and find ourselves dealing with tragic events. Medical errors on the parts of doctors and nurses come in all forms—from botched surgeries, to delay of treatment, to inappropriate dispensing of medication. The outcome of a medication error includes devastating and life-threatening aftermath to the victim, as well as financial burden and, in some cases, loss of life.  What is a medication error and how can it be prevented?

The Institute of Medicine further defines a medication error as “any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional..”  Medication errors come in all forms, with the most frequent being the dispensing of an improper dose of medication. Medication errors also occur from improper communication, distractions, illegible handwriting on a script, misleading product labels, ineffective monitoring by a supervisor, and lack of education on the part of the institution.

Prevention of Medication Errors

While nursing schools have long taught basic fundamentals when it comes to nursing, there are “5 rights” related to safely dispensing medication which many nurses have learned through academic and practical tasks.  Those rights include: the right drug, the right patient, the right route, the right dose and the right time.  If each and every nurse makes these practices part of a natural routine every single time, then it seems as though there would be little room for any type of error in medication dispensing and administering. However, just as with any task to which the brain is accustomed to performing correctly, so is the brain also conditioned to make mistakes. Therefore, is it essential for hospitals and health care institutions to ensure and implement barriers and safeguards for the nursing industry that prevent errors related to dispensing of medication. Some of the checks and balances include the following:

  • Using a computerized bar code system that tracks inventory and offers alerts
  • Insisting that the nurses consult with the medical team and pharmacy prior to dispensing any type of medication, no matter how routine
  • Providing education about the medication being administered, and the reason behind each prescription

In addition to a standard checks and balances system that a hospital may require when it comes to dispensing medication, there are other cautions that should be noted such as the ones listed below.

  • Nurses must be aware of the risks associated with administering “high alert drugs,” i.e., those drugs that have an increased risk of causing harm to patients if dispensed and administered inappropriately. 
  • Doctors and nurses must communicate clearly when it comes to writing prescriptions.  Symbols and abbreviations can be easily misinterpreted, and if misinterpreted could lead to fatal doses, depending on the patient.  For instance, “U” can be interpreted as a “0,” and “qd” can be interpreted as “qid,” which in the latter case would actually quadruple the dose of that drug.
  • Nurses are as distracted as anyone when it comes to hospital tasks, and there are many situations in a hospital to which attention is diverted. A tragic case of nursing error occurred in 2011 when a seasoned nurse at a children’s hospital administered a fatal does of insulin to an infant who had been in her care since birth. The nurse admitted that she had been talking to someone, and miscalculated the dose at the time.
  • Patients should be aware of the dosages ordered and should ask questions and seek advice whenever a new prescription is introduced.

While the age of technology produces efficient procedures, there is still no absolute that errors will not occur. Computers are also prone to mistakes and are only as effective as the programming and data input. Yet, many nurses continue to rely on the computerization of dispensing and administering medications. Through computerization, some errors include: mismatching patients and medication; dispensing inappropriate doses of medications; and patients being given medications to which they are allergic.

Legal Help for Medication Error Victims

If you or someone you know has been traumatized or died as a result of a medication error through a nurse’s negligence, you may have questions on how to proceed in bringing those errors to the forefront. When you enter into a medical malpractice lawsuit of any kind, including one involving a nurse’s negligence through dispensing of medication, there is a vast amount of evidence that needs to be collected in order to start—and eventually win—the case. Compensation comes in the form of recovery for economic losses including costs of health care and lost wages from having to leave or alter the current status of employment; compensation in the form of pain and suffering related to any injury or death that was caused by the medication error; and punitive damages that punish the defendant. 

In any case, a medical malpractice lawsuit is time-consuming and lengthy if the patient is seeking to find the solutions without the help of a capable and renowned law firm who handles medication error cases.  Obtaining access to documentation, subpoenaing records, uncovering witness accounts and enlisting professionals as expert witnesses are just a few of the elements involved in a medication error case. This type of lawsuit is best handled by an experienced law firm renowned for personal injury cases. The Finz Firm is skilled in settlements related to medical malpractice. Without any obligation, we invite you to fill out and submit our Free Nursing Error and Medication Errors Evaluation form, or contact us toll free to (855) TOP-FIRM to further discuss your situation. The firm also handles all type of medical malpractice cases including the following conditions:

If you or someone you know has experienced an improper medication error as a result of a nurse’s negligence, the team at the Finz law firm consists of attorneys renowned for achieving desirable results and the compensation you deserve.  They are ready to assist you.

Related News for Medication Errors

New York State Takes Steps to Prevent Pharmacy Medication Errors

April 08, 2016 | Finz & Finz, P.C.

When you would go to the doctor for a prescription, you would be given a paper script to hand over to the pharmacy. And for years it has been a chore for many patients and pharmacists to try and decipher what is actually written on that script. While doctors’ illegible handwriting has become somewhat of a joke, it can lead to serious problems if a patient is given the wrong dosage or the wrong medication entirely. New York State has now taken steps to try to correct this problem by making electronic prescriptions mandatory.

Continue Reading: New York State Takes Steps to Prevent Pharmacy Medication Errors

Surgery Medication Errors are Shockingly Common

November 23, 2015 | Finz & Finz, P.C.

If you’d asked even the most jaded individual, it’s unlikely they would have guessed that medication errors during surgery are as common as they are.  They might have expected that 10 percent of surgeries include a medication error.  Perhaps they would have even guessed that twenty-five percent did.  But it’s extremely unlikely that anyone would have guessed that nearly fifty percent of all surgeries have a medication error.

Continue Reading: Surgery Medication Errors are Shockingly Common

New York Attorney on Medication Errors

October 14, 2015 | Finz & Finz, P.C.

2.58 per 100 shifts.  That’s the best case scenario, adjusting for the time of day of the shift, the number of people on duty, and the number of orders received.  The new study conducted in the Houston area regarding medication errors by pharmacists was intended to demonstrate how workload is the primary driver of medication error.  But the study actually revealed that medication errors are too common regardless of the circumstances.

Continue Reading: New York Attorney on Medication Errors

No Excuse When It Comes to Your Health

August 17, 2015 | Finz & Finz, P.C.

Medication errors happen all the time, and some are more excusable than others (though none are truly excusable).  Some of these medication errors are of commission, where an unnecessary or dangerous medication is given.  Some are of omission, where a needed medication is not given.  There are a variety of circumstances that lead to both of these very important issues.

Continue Reading: No Excuse When It Comes to Your Health

Medication Errors: Asking the Right Questions

May 18, 2015 | Finz & Finz, P.C.

Medication errors are much more common than most people think.  In fact, medication errors are thought to be the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States.  Even as medical breakthroughs make it possible to keep us alive and healthy longer than past generations dreamed was possible, medication errors continue to cut lives short and cause incredible amounts of pain and suffering.

Continue Reading: Medication Errors: Asking the Right Questions

Medication Errors: Researching Fraud

March 09, 2015 | Finz & Finz, P.C.

A terrifying article in Slate magazine goes to the very core of problems with American medicine.  Charles Seife, a university professor, and his students, went through the database of the FDA inspection files to determine just how common medical malfeasance is.  Not only did they find countless examples of doctors being responsible for death and dismemberment, but they discovered a pervasive issue that allows dangerous medications to become available to the public when they should not be.

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