Because Your Future Matters

3 medication errors made by professionals that harm patients

On Behalf of | Aug 21, 2023 | Medical Malpractice |

Modern medications can achieve numerous important medical goals, including managing someone’s pain levels, controlling their blood pressure or helping their bodies metabolize sugar. Many of the most useful drugs also have some significant side effects or present a risk of abuse and addiction. Therefore, these medications are only available with a prescription from a professional.

Patients tend to trust that physicians will prescribe them the right medication and manage their treatments appropriately. Unfortunately, medical professionals can very easily make mistakes when recommending or dispensing medications that can result in major consequences for a patient. The three medication errors below are among the most common and concerning for those in need of treatment.

Failing to identify interactions

It’s very common for people to need to take more than one prescription medication at a time. Adding numerous compounds to the human body simultaneously can have unusual consequences. Some medications have a synergistic effect on each other, meaning that one drug amplifies the effect of the other. Other medications can neutralize each other, which means that if a patient takes one medication, it may decrease or eliminate the benefits of taking another drug. Doctors should be aware of the medications that patients take so that they can identify and avoid possible interactions.

Making administration or preparation errors

Physicians aren’t usually the ones who administer the drugs they recommend to patients, nor do they dispense or formulate those drugs. Nurses, pharmacists and technicians usually play an important role in the drug administration or prescription fulfillment process. A nurse could give someone the pills intended for the patient in the next room, or a professional in a pharmacy might get the dosage wrong when compounding a liquid suspension for intravenous IV administration. Those errors can reduce the efficacy of treatment or cause a dangerous reaction to the drug, like an overdose.


Many medical practices treat patients largely like customers, and they would prefer to minimize inconvenience, sometimes at the cost of proper safeguarding. Doctors sometimes prescribe too much medication to someone simply to avoid meaning to have another appointment for a refill. Those generous prescribing habits can make it easier for people to end up abusing leftover medication or result in them lying about their compliance with tapering efforts at the end of the prescription.

Despite how well-known these common medication errors are, they continue to occur with alarming frequency across the United States every year. Learning about the most common medication errors can help people recognize when they or a loved one may have been the victim of medical malpractice.