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Can a centralized medical list reduce medication errors?

People in Miami may be surprised to hear that, despite advancements in technology centralizing their medical records in one database, there is not one up-to-date record available of what medications -both prescription and over-the-counter -- they are taking, except for the knowledge the person carries him or herself. This has significant, negative consequences that could harm patients.

For example, a study performed by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2016 found that the third leading cause of fatalities in the nation were due to medical errors, many of which had to deal with errors in medications taken. Moreover, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year approximately one million people go to the emergency room for treatment for an adverse drug reaction. Right now, some common medication errors include patients being administered duplicate medications, patients not receiving the medications they need and the unreported use of herbal supplements and other dietary aids.

According to one researcher, one way to resolve this issue is through the creation of a centralized medical list that is made available to pharmacists and is consistently reviewed and updated by physicians. Without a centralized medical list, medication errors can occur, because pharmacists have an incomplete picture of a patient's medical condition.

While some legislators in other states have proposed laws that would allow this to happen, as of right now the role of pharmacists in a patient's medical care is still limited to dispensing drugs with an incomplete picture of what medications the patient is currently taking. This can lead to unacceptable medication errors. If a person is harmed due to an avoidable medication error, they may want to determine if they can seek compensation from the parties that made the mistake.

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