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Study Finds At-Home Medication Mistakes a Growing Problem

Medication MistakesWe all understand the dangers that are associated with a doctor prescribing the wrong medicine or hospital staff mixing up dosages or giving the wrong the patient the wrong medication. In some cases, such scenarios can even provide the basis for a medical malpractice claim. According to a new study, however, there are also risks associated with taking medications at home, and the rate of at-home problems has spiked dramatically in the last two decades.

The study was published earlier this month in the research journal Clinical Toxicology, and it examined data from poison control centers across the United States. The research team, led by Nichole Hodges, a scientist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH, focused on medication errors that occurred outside of health care facilities and led to serious medical outcomes. The study defined serious medical outcomes as those which require treatment for life-threatening concerns up to and including death.

Startling Numbers

The team examined poison control center reports and case records to determine that there were just over 3,000 cases of serious medication errors in 2000, but the number more than doubled to over 6,800 in 2012. Overall, some 67,000 people experienced serious errors, with 414 resulting in death. Hodges further surmised that medication errors at home are probably underreported so the problem is likely even worse than the study shows.

How Do Mistakes Happen?

At-home medication errors can occur in a number of ways. Some people take the wrong dose. Some forget they have taken their medication and take a double dose. In other cases, the pharmacy might fill the wrong concentration of a medicine. Other situations involve a patient taking the wrong medicine altogether.

The study showed that heart medications, painkillers, and hormones were involved in over 40 percent of all serious at-home errors, with heart medications involved in one out of every five. The researchers acknowledged that the use of cardiovascular medications has seen an increase in recent years, so an increase in errors is not entirely unexpected. Hodges and her team recommend keeping a daily log of which medications were taken and when to prevent skipping or doubling doses. They also stress the importance of keeping medications out of the reach of children to avoid accidental ingestion.

Dealing With Pharmacy Mistakes

If you or a loved one has suffered a serious medical outcome as the result of a medication mix-up by your pharmacist, you may be able to collect compensation for your injuries. Contact an experienced San Jose medical malpractice attorney to discuss your case and explore your available options. Call (408) 289-1417 for a free consultation with Corsiglia McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. today.

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