A 1990 study of prescribing medication errors in teaching hospitals detected an estimated 3.13 errors for each 1,000 orders written, and a rate of 1.81 significant errors per 1,000 orders. The high number of orders and the hectic nature of general and teaching hospitals makes it quite a task to get all of the medication and prescription orders correct.
The quality of healthcare and medication is very high in this country with superb standards other countries observe and assimilate into their own healthcare systems. When medication errors occur and result in personal injuries and fatalities, it is blight not only to our medical system but to our country itself.
The most common errors where medical malpractice is concerned is the volume of dosage given to patients. Other possible medication errors include:
- Diagnostic error, such as misdiagnosis leading to an incorrect choice of therapy, failure to use an indicated diagnostic test, misinterpretation of test results, and failure to act on abnormal results.
- Equipment failure, such as defibrillators with dead batteries or intravenous pumps whose valves are easily dislodged or bumped, causes increased doses of medication over too short a period.
- Infections, such as nosocomial and post-surgical wound infections.
- Blood transfusion-related injuries, such as giving a patient the blood of the incorrect type.
- Misinterpretation of other medical orders, such as failing to give a patient a salt-free meal, as ordered by a physician.