Prescription Errors are More Common Than You Might Suspect

by Terry Bryant

Patients assume that there are safeguards to protect us from medical error. Surely, when we seek medical treatment there are systems in place to catch mistakes before they reach the patient. Unfortunately, a large number of medical errors occur every day in the United States, some of which are fatal or cause significant harm.

One area of the healthcare process that is designed to protect us as patients and consumers is the prescription drug supply chain. The gatekeeper of prescriptions is the pharmacist, who is charged with the task of identifying dangerous drug recalls, catching the mistakes of a prescribing doctor, and informing patients about possible drug interactions.

Pharmacists follow strict standards that are set forth by the law and the rules from their state’s Board of Pharmacy. Prescription medication is a rarified space in the medical community, especially regarding the accountability to patients. Yet for all of these procedures and standards, medication errors are surprisingly common in the United States.

5 Facts About Prescription and Medication Errors

  • Every day in the United States, at least one person dies from a medication error.
  • Every year, around 1.3 million people suffer injuries from medication errors.
  • Around 70% of medication errors are due to errors in the prescribing process.
  • When a patient suffers harm because of exposure to a medication, it is referred to as an adverse drug event. Adverse drug events contribute to around 700,000 emergency room visits and 100,000 hospitalizations every year.
  • Around one in every 20 hospitalized patients suffers an adverse drug event every year.

Prescription errors can occur anywhere in the distribution process. The error could be made by the manufacturer of the drug if the medication itself is defective. If the prescription is for the wrong dosage or the wrong drug, the fault could be placed on the doctor who wrote the prescription. If the drug is filled improperly or if the patient isn’t adequately informed about drug interactions, the pharmacist might bear responsibility. As we noted above, pharmacists are generally responsible for catching mistakes made by others in the supply chain.

If You’ve Suffered from a Medication Error, You Do Have Options

The big takeaway from these facts is that patients must be diligent about the medications they are given. We should remind ourselves that mistakes are common and that we need to be sure that the medications we take are in our best interest. When you receive a prescription, make sure that it doesn’t have dangerous interactions with other medications you take. Look up the medication to ensure it hasn’t been subjected to a recall.

If you have suffered injury or illness because of a prescription or medication error, you also have legal options. By filing a medical malpractice or other legal claim, you can hold the responsible party accountable for the harm they have caused you. This will help you cope with the financial consequences of your injuries and make sure that others don’t fall prey to the same errors.

At Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law, we have been standing up for the rights of patients and consumers since 1985. We have years of experience holding negligent medical providers, pharmacists, and drug manufacturers accountable, and we are proud to put that experience to work for our clients. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with our team and to learn more about your options.