A recent article appearing in the Annals of Internal Medicine shows that medication errors are surprisingly common after hospital discharge. The article reports that medication errors were found with about one half of the patients studied. About 20% of the errors were deemed to be “serious,” while 2% were actually judged to be “life-threatening.” When a medication error results in injury, under Ohio law, a claim for medical negligence may arise.
The Annals of Internal Medicine article confirms that patients require better followup to gauge their reactions to medications, but that pharmacists are not able to provide effective prospective monitoring. Instead, that burden must fall on the prescribing physician. Likewise, prior to discharge, caregivers have to do a better job in educating patients.
I have written previously about how commonplace prescription errors are, and how those errors are particularly dangerous for children. Pediatric patients, in general, are often less able to overcome an overdose or related medication catastrophe than fully developed patients. The Annals of Internal Medicine article describes how common medicines used to treat cardiac-related conditions in an older adult population can also lead to devastating results.
You can read more about this problem by clicking on this link and following the prompts to create an account: http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1206684. Medication errors are another symptom of a healthcare system that is driven by profit rather than results. Until quality of care drives decisionmaking, medical malpractice will continue to occur from these avoidable mistakes.