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Why do medication errors occur?

On Behalf of | Mar 13, 2024 | Medical Malpractice |

Errors made in prescribing and dispensing medications take the lives of about 7,000 to 9,000 people each year in the United States alone. This makes medication errors one of the most significant causes of concern in healthcare today.

Anyone can make mistakes. However, when health practitioners make errors while prescribing or administering medicine, the consequences can range from negligible outcomes to serious health complications or even death.

Understanding the most common causes of medication errors made by healthcare professionals is crucial in curbing the occurrence of these mistakes and promoting safer medical practices.

Communication breakdown

One of the leading causes of medication errors is miscommunication. Even seemingly more minor mistakes like the misinterpretation of handwriting, verbal orders or unclear abbreviations can lead to the wrong medication or dosage being administered.

Inadequate information flow

In any healthcare setting, having adequate information about the patient’s history is paramount to prescribing safe and effective medication.

Without this crucial flow of information, doctors might prescribe medicines that the patient may be allergic to or have an adverse effect on the patient’s current medications.

System failures

Human errors may cause mistakes in medication, but these are often the results of a flawed system plagued by inadequate backup to detect mistakes.

Suppose the medical facility suffers from issues such as overworked personnel, inadequate staffing levels and system-based errors. In that case, healthcare workers are inevitably put in a position where they are more likely to make a mistake.

Medication errors are preventable in healthcare, but combating them requires proactive efforts from medical professionals and patients.

Understanding the root causes of such mistakes can significantly minimize their occurrence in any medical setting. Furthermore, it can help people protect their well-being and advocate for their right to quality healthcare.