study poor care coordination increases medication error risk by 140 percent

An study of seven industrialized countries just published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice sheds some light on the key risk factors for errors behind medical care, treatment and medication errors. One of the top issues was poor care coordination. Sadly, another key contributor was a patient’s low socioeconomic status.

Researchers from the U.S. and Australia analyzed data from the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Germany and the Netherlands that had been collected by the Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey. Of the 11,910 people surveyed, 11 percent reported experiencing a medication error or another type of medical error in the previous two years.

In the U.S., a total of 2,500 patients were surveyed, 13 percent of whom had reported experiencing medical or medication errors — higher than the average for all seven countries.

According to the study, poor care coordination increased the chance that a patient would suffer from a medication error or other health care mistake by 140 percent. When patients were unable to afford basic medical costs, the rates of medication, treatment and care errors increased by 90 percent.

“Previous research suggests that incidence rates are as high as 6.5 percent in adult inpatients and more than 27% in adult outpatients and that 5 percent to 8 percent per of hospital admissions are due to adverse drug events,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Christine Lu of Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute in Boston.

“Medication errors can happen when they are prescribed, dispensed or administered and all countries need to find ways to reduce them, together with errors in medical treatment and care.”

Other factors that increase the statistical risk of treatment and medication errors in the U.S., according to the study, include:

  • Having been hospitalized within the past two years
  • Seeing two or more specialists
  • Having two or more chronic illnesses
  • Having visited the emergency room two or more times
  • Suffering from clinical depression
  • Being between the ages of 18 and 29

“Medication errors are a serious safety concern, a major cause of adverse drug events and one of the most preventable causes of patient injury,” said Dr. Lu.

Source: Medical News Today, “Poorly Co-ordinated Care Doubled Risk Of Drug And Medical Errors In Seven Countries,” June 20, 2011

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