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The dangerous and potentially deadly problem of medication errors

On Behalf of | Aug 2, 2021 | Medical Malpractice

If you’re like most adults in New Jersey, you’ll take certain medicines to seek relief from short-term conditions. For more chronic ailments, you might be taking medications for the foreseeable future. Considering how common it is to take something prescribed or administered to you, it’s important to learn the dangers that medication errors pose.

How common are medication errors in the United States?

Research shows that medication errors are responsible for about 98,000 deaths each year. This form of medical malpractice causes more deaths than motor vehicle accidents or breast cancer. Deaths resulting from medication errors also outnumber deaths caused by workplace injuries.

The importance of adhering to the five rights

Fortunately, there is a system many medical facilities use to prevent the danger and cost of medication-related errors. Known as the five rights, this system is a five-step process. By adhering to the five rights, medical professionals ensure that the correct person receives the drug they need. It also confirms dosage amounts, what time each medication gets taken, and the medication’s route of administration.

With that said, a wide range of problems can lead to medical facilities not adhering to the five rights. These problems can include:

• A lack of properly trained staff
• Errors due to misunderstood handwriting
• Poor lighting in a care facility
• Drugs that look similar in appearance
• Drug names that sound similar
• Trailing zeroes

Adhering to the five rights isn’t a way to avoid all types of medication errors or guarantee that no adverse effects will occur. However, it can help safeguard medical workers from making some of the most common mistakes when administering medications to their patients.