What Are The Most Common Medication Errors?

Medication errors refer to mistakes made when prescribing, dispensing, and administering medications. Unfortunately, taking the wrong drug can lead to severe health problems or death.

People taking medications in Maryland are also vulnerable to similar problems. With this in mind, you must know what the most common medication errors are and their possible causes. It can help develop your case against the ones responsible for the mistake. 

Common Medication Errors

Prescribing or Administering Wrong Medication

A physician might prescribe the wrong medication to the patient, which could, at best, do nothing to their health. However, there is also the chance it might make you worse instead. This could happen in instances such as when they are not entirely sure of your diagnosis and are still experimenting with the right treatment plan for you. 

Besides the physician, nurses may also play a part in this error when administering the wrong medication to you.

Prescribing Medication with Harmful Side Effects

It is also possible that the doctor has prescribed the correct medication for treating a particular illness. However, the prescription drug may have adverse side effects that could be severe or even deadly. For example, if you take Methimazole for hyperthyroidism, you could have side effects such as white blood cell loss, which significantly reduces immunity to many diseases. 

As pharmacists are typically more well-versed on a drug’s composition and side effects, it would also be their duty to inform you and the doctor on whether there are any potential conflicts between different medications. Doing so would help minimize your risk of suffering from adverse reactions. Therefore, you can consider it negligence on their part not to warn you of any possible side effects before dispensing the prescription medication. 

However, your physician should also have some knowledge of their own on such matters. Using the hyperthyroid medication example, the doctor should first consider if you have any other existing conditions that would be affected by a lower white blood cell count.

Wrong Prescribed Dosage and Instructions

In some instances, even a small discrepancy in the dosage amount can be the difference between getting too little medicine or an overdose. However, unfortunately, it is still possible for your medical providers to fail to administer the exact dosage prescribed to you. 

Moreover, they could also fail to administer the medication as instructed. For example, a drug might get injected directly into your bloodstream when it should have only been to your muscle tissue instead. 

Medication Mislabeling

Medicines may sometimes get mislabeled during manufacturing or even when dispensing at the pharmacy. It could result in the patient accidentally taking the wrong drugs and exacerbating their health issues. 

Other Causes Behind Medication Errors

Here are some other common causes behind medication errors: 

  • Illegible Prescription Handwriting: The wrong drug may get dispensed because the doctor’s handwriting is not easily decipherable. Pharmacists are typically skilled in understanding doctors’ writings, but mistakes can still happen. Fortunately, such instances are getting rarer as we move towards computerized prescriptions. 
  • Complex Regimens: If a patient’s medication plan is too convoluted, the nurse or other healthcare provider could confuse the schedule and dosages. This could mean the patient may be having too much or too little of the prescription needed. They might also administer the medication incorrectly. 
  • Drugs with Similar Names: One drug may have a similar name to another, leading to mix-ups during prescriptions or when dispensing the medicine. This can be especially problematic when the physician verbally prescribes, as the patient may buy the wrong drug. 
  • Lack of Information on Drug Interactions: There may not be enough studies or laboratory results on how one drug may respond to another if prescribed together, leading to adverse side effects on patients. 

Who Can Be Liable for Errors with Medications?

Anyone involved in the manufacturing, prescribing, and administering processes can be liable for the medication errors. They can include:

  • Physicians and nurses
  • Pharmacists
  • Hospitals
  • Pharmaceutical companies

For example, a nurse would be liable for the medication error if they accidentally administered the wrong dosage despite having clear instructions on the patient’s medication plan. Likewise, a pharmacist would likely be at fault if they dispensed expired prescription drugs. At the same time, a pharmaceutical manufacturer can be liable for not disclosing side effects on their labels. 

You could work with an attorney in gathering evidence of the medication error to determine who to hold liable for your condition.

Consult with a Medication Errors Lawyer About Your Injury Today

If you were a victim of a medication error by a negligent healthcare provider, you could file a malpractice claim with Brown & Barron. Our Maryland medication errors attorneys have decades of combined legal experience guiding and representing numerous victims of the most common medication errors. 

Call our law office today or send the incident details here on our website to receive your free case review.

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