National Patient Safety Week continues and so does our discussion about preventable medical errors. Medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States. Only cancer and heart-disease claim more lives. Accidents, stroke, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease are not even close to the deaths caused by preventable medical errors.
With that background, today we will look at medicine errors. Medicine errors can take many forms. The wrong medicine or the wrong quantity can be administered. The medicine can be administered at the wrong time resulting in either ineffective treatment or an overdose situation. Or, a medication can have a dangerous adverse drug interaction with a medication the patient is already receiving.
According to the National Patient Safety Foundation, 1.5 million Americans are harmed each year by preventable medicine errors. These errors can occur by pharmacies and by medical professionals in a hospital or long-term care setting. As a patient, there are steps you can take to help prevent medicine errors. In the event your medical condition renders you unable to monitor your medications, it can be very helpful for a family member to ensure the accuracy of any medications administered to you.