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Medication Errors Essay

856 words - 4 pages

Medical errors have and continue to be an enormous problem in health care. Patients die from the wrong drug or wrong dosage, or perhaps an infection that could have been prevent with better hygiene practices. More attention was placed on the issue of medical errors in 2000 when the Institute of Medicine made available the well-known report titled “To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System”. The report documented evidence of an estimated 44,000 people and as many as 98,000 people dying in hospitals from medical errors each year in the United States (IOM, 1999). Of the many medical errors, medication errors happen to be one that can not be overemphasized. Medication use have been found ...view middle of the document...

A study by Hodgkinson et.al that sought strategies to reduce medication errors cited the most common reason of medication error was due to the lack of drug information by the multidisciplinary team (2006). Inexperience and or lack of knowledge of the drug could lead to the physician ordering the wrong dose, the pharmacist incorrectly mixing the medication with the right concentration, and the nurse administering the medication with the wrong route such as giving an intramuscular injection instead of subcutaneously (Etchells, et. al, 2008).

While human error is very important to consider, it is equally important to analyze the context in which errors can occur such as the clinical environment and patient population. The type of clinical setting in a hospital can be more prone to medication errors than others due to the patient population with respect to the severity of their illness, and number and type of medications needed to be administered. Critical care units for example, tend to be at a higher risk for medication errors. Critical care units provide for very sick patients who need to be attended to without delay, may require consults from various providers, and receive twice as many medications as compared to patients on general medical floors. Patients in intensive care experience an average of 1.7 medical errors each day. Medication errors are the most common type or error and account for 78 percent of serious medical errors in critical care (Camire et. al, 2009).

In addition to the patients in critical care, pediatrics and the elderly also tend to be at high risk for medication errors since there require many medications when sick. Pediatric...

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