devastating medication errors are still common

A recent study of medication errors in Minnesota hospitals had bad news for patients that might have hoped this type of medical malpractice was on the wane. The study found a sharp increase in medication errors in the last year. This was the case despite the fact that many of the hospital pharmacies studied had installed sophisticated computerized dispensing systems.

Unfortunately, medication errors are not unique to Minnesota. Although the results of Minnesota’s report may or may not be directly relevant to patients in Pennsylvania, the results are not a good sign for patients who expect competent professional medical care, and have a right to expect care free of medication errors and other types of hospital negligence. It would be overoptimistic to expect that dismal study results in one state have no parallels in another.

The Minnesota study reported thirteen serious medication errors between October 2009 and October 2010. In the previous three years combined, only fourteen similar errors were found.

Seemingly minor medication errors can have devastating results for patients. Patients who receive incorrect medications can suffer terrible side effects and dangerous unanticipated drug interactions. Minnesota’s reports have recorded instances of twenty-eight types of preventable medical errors since 2005. Medication errors have consistently been the second leading cause of death from preventable error in all of those reports.

The most recent report included two deaths and eleven disabilities directly related to medication errors.

Pennsylvania hospital negligence attorneys have been disturbed by the poor showing in Minnesota, whose recent study found preventable medical mistakes being made even by the prestigious Mayo Clinic. Back in 2006, the U.S. Institute of Medicine estimated that 400,000 preventable drug-related injuries occurred in hospitals that year. Unfortunately for patients, four years later it would seem that very little improvement has been made.

Source: Star Tribune “Medication errors rise sharply at Minnesota hospitals” 1/19/2011

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