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Despite advances in medical field, medication errors persist

We are fortunate to live in the age of modern medicine, when there is medication to treat almost anything. When people in Miami have a headache, they will take an over-the-counter pain killer. If they have high blood pressure, diabetes or even a mental illness, there are prescription medications that can help alleviate these conditions.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 82 percent of adults in the United States take one or more types of medications on a daily basis. This means that pharmacists will fill anywhere from 125 to 150 prescriptions daily. However, the physicians prescribing the medication and the pharmacist filling the medication are only human and can make mistakes. This means that medication errors are not uncommon. A person could receive the wrong medication, could receive medication meant for another person, could receive the wrong dosage of a medication or the instructions on the medication bottle could be inaccurate. In addition, some drugs have similar names, causing confusion.

One professional attributes these mistakes to the movement from traditional handwritten prescriptions to prescriptions that are sent to pharmacies electronically. A physician could select the wrong medication in these electronic systems, which is then sent on to the pharmacist. If this happens, the pharmacist may not be aware that a mistake was made.

Pharmacists make efforts to check that they are dispensing the right medication numerous times before placing it in the hands of consumers. However, according to the CDC, over 1 million people go to the emergency room because they are suffering from an adverse drug event. For example, they may be having an allergic reaction to the drug, could be suffering from a side effect of the drug, could have taken too much of the drug or could have taken the wrong drug.

It is unfortunate that people these days still fall ill due to medication errors, especially since such errors are entirely preventable. Those who have been harmed due to a medication error may want to determine if they can take legal action against the responsible party, so they can seek compensation for their damages.

Source: thv11.com, "Pill peril: How pharmacists make sure you get the right medication," Erika Ferrando, Feb. 5, 2018

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