Each year, there are 1.5 million victims of medication errors throughout West Virginia and the rest of the United States. Some of these errors are caused by physicians or pharmacists while others are caused by the patients themselves. It’s vital to get to the reasons for these issues so that viable solutions can be put into place to avoid future errors.

What are the most common errors?

When assessing these 1.5 million victims, three main categories of errors emerge. The first is taking the wrong medication. Some patients were simply given the wrong medication by their physician, or they received the wrong medication from their pharmacy. To avoid this mistake, it’s essential that the patient write down the name of the medication that their doctor prescribes. When the medication is picked up from the pharmacy of choice, it should be verified that the name matches. Of course, this will not eliminate the problem of the wrong medication being prescribed in the first place.

The second is taking the wrong dosage. This could be a fault of the patient, physician or pharmacy. The patient may misread the instructions on the label and take the wrong dosage. It’s also possible that the doctor may have prescribed the wrong dosage or that the pharmacist provided the wrong strength for the medication. The third category involves the patient accidentally taking the medication twice.

Avoiding medication errors

One of the best ways for physicians to avoid medical malpractice claims is to double-check all of their prescriptions. This includes when they enter them into the computer system. They should ensure that the name of the medication is correct and so is the dosage. Patients should ensure that they read the label on their medication twice to not only ensure it’s the medication they were prescribed but also that they understand how to take it correctly.

Medication errors are becoming more common than ever before. Many would have thought that with the introduction of more technology in the workplace, there would be fewer errors. However, this isn’t the case. Patients, physicians and pharmacists all need to do their part in double-checking every medication to eliminate errors.