Over the past months, we have seen a sharp increase in the number of deaths caused by medication errors. Celebrity cases such as Heath Ledger’s recent death from mixing prescription drugs and Dennis Quaid’s newborn twins receiving an adult dose of a blood thinner have gotten lots of media attention. But those two cases only scratch the surface of the growing number of lawsuits over medication errors. The suits include claims against pharmacies for errors in filling prescriptions, doctors and hospitals for mistakes in dosage, nursing homes for giving the wrong pills to patients, and manufacturers for labeling. Pharmacists at the large chains are dealing in large volumes. Hospitals, doctors and nurses have too many patients on occasion. All of this causes problems. Medication errors are said to be “endemic” in nursing homes and that is directly related to many nursing homes being understaffed.
A recent study by the Harrison School of Pharmacy at Auburn University found that “dispensing errors are a problem on a national level,” and estimated that 51.5 million prescription errors occur during the filling of 3 billion prescriptions each year. There are a number of reasons for this, among which are, the difficulty in distinguishing between packages identifying drugs. The number of generic brands is a factor because now there are many different versions of the same drug with similar packaging. In addition, aggressive direct-to-consumer marketing by the drug companies has popularized drugs and put pressure on doctors to prescribe them. The bottom line is that there are a great number of medication errors being made. The healthcare system must address this problem and come up with some workable solutions.
Source: Lawyers USA
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