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Medication Errors Are Common, Preventable

No one in Michigan wants to have to take heart medication, or any medication for that matter. Yet, when we have to take medication, we expect to receive the right medication in the right doses. When medication errors occur and cause injury, we are left wondering: How could this have happened? Who is responsible?

Studies have shown that medication-related mistakes are extremely common. A recent study performed by Vanderbilt University Medical Center indicated that about half of all heart patients made some error at least once after leaving the hospital. Some of the consequences can be serious, such as a drop in blood pressure. In total, two percent of errors were considered life-threatening.

These errors occur for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, the patient may make a mistake (as in the above study), but a common cause of medication errors stems from medical malpractice. This could involve administration of an improper dose, giving the wrong drug or failing to address multiple drug interactions.

On the upside, steps are being taken to try to reduce the number of medication errors that occur. Current studies are testing the impact of extra pharmacist intervention, such as follow up calls from the pharmacist to the patient or arranged visits to the pharmacist.

On the downside, the pharmacist doesn't always know best. Too often, a pharmacist may fail to ask about other medications the patient may be on, and certain drug interactions can cause unpleasant or even life-threatening consequences.

Some good advice to our Michigan friends and clients who take multiple medications is to keep a list with you at all times. Inform the pharmacist or doctor of all current medications (both prescription and non), dietary supplements and herbal preparations and always ask questions.

For many, preventing the error in the first place will be the best possible outcome. However, when an error occurs that is not the fault of the patient and leads to complications or injury, an Ann Arbor medical malpractice attorney can help the injured pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit to obtain compensation from the at-fault doctors, pharmacists or other medical professionals.

Source: Fox News, "Half of all heart patients make medication errors," July 10, 2012

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