How Common Are Medication Errors?

If you are like many New Mexico residents, you may understand that you can suffer serious medical complications if you take the wrong medication or the wrong dosage. Adverse medication events can include your condition worsening. At worst, you may suffer serious side effects that may even be fatal. You can see how important it is to receive accurate, timely doses of your medications, and you may have made it a habit to do your own part in being responsible with your prescriptions. Unfortunately, medication mistakes occur in the medical community. These can include errors in the hospital or with your pharmacist.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are five ways that¬†medication errors¬†typically occur, which doctors and pharmacists refer to as the “five rights” – the right patient, the right medication, the right time, the right dose and the right route. In hospital settings, staff administering drugs at the wrong time comprises the most common type of medication error that you may face. The next most common medication mistakes include the following:

  • Omitting or missing a dose
  • Administering the wrong dose
  • Making the wrong preparation of medication
  • Administering IV medication at the wrong rate

What exactly causes these serious mistakes, you may wonder? A hospital may be understaffed, with personnel being responsible for numerous patients during a stressful shift. The staff may utilize poor planning and processing methods. Pharmacists may mistakenly give you a drug that has a similar name to your prescription or print the wrong dosage amount on instruction labels.

This is a complex topic that requires competent legal counsel if you are harmed by a medication error.