Medication is used frequently in hospitals all across the country. Due to this prevalence it is important that doctors and nurses provide patients with the correct medication in the right dosage. However, errors do occur whether it results in the patient receiving the wrong medication or the wrong dosage. These errors do not always harm the patient but there are times when injury does occur.
A new study has shown that when hospitals make mistakes with a patient’s medicine, the patient and their families are rarely told. While most mistakes with medication did not harm the patients, those that did mostly occurred in the intensive care units (ICUs). These units were less likely to tell patients of errors than other hospital units.
More often than not no action was taken after an error occurred. A patient and / or their family are almost never informed of an error. This is despite the literature that encourages full disclosure.
In a database of about 840,000 medication errors that were voluntarily reported between 1999 and 2005 from 537 hospitals in the United States it was found that ICUs accounted for about 6.6 percent of the errors. The remaining errors occurred in other non-ICU units of the hospital. Most of the mistakes, about 98 percent, did not lead to injury, but those that did were more likely to occur in the ICUs. Medication errors in the ICUs ended up injuring the patient about four percent of the time. This is compared to two percent in non-ICU wards.
The most common errors in all types of wards were errors of omission, such as failing to give a patient the medication. The more harmful errors included miscalculating medication dosages and errors involving IV lines.
Patients rely on doctors and other medical professionals to provide them with the appropriate care and treatment. All medical professionals need to work to prevent errors from occurring and when errors occur the patient needs to be informed.
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