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Medication Errors Are a Major Problem in USA

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When your doctor prescribes medication for some illness or health issue that you are having, you expect that medication to help you and not hurt you. You do not expect that the medication will be what causes you to have to be admitted to the hospital.

An alarming fact is that more and more people are being treated for medication errors in the USA. In fact, medication errors are a major problem in the USA. Over the last few years, problems related to medical errors have increased over 50%.

This increase in medication errors is in spite of a good number of national reports that have been published in the last few years that have sounded an alarm about this problem. The latest reports indicate that the problem of medication errors remains an ongoing concern.

Problem for senior citizens and young

Senior citizens over the age of 65 are the people who are most often admitted to the hospital for medication-related or side effects injuries. However, young people face this danger, also. One in five emergency cases involving medication errors were teenagers or children.

In 2006, the Institute of Medicine put out a report that showed that medication errors were the most common medical errors that were taking place. The report also stated that these medical errors were costing an estimated $3.5 billion in lost productivity, wages and additional health care expenses.

According to the Institute of Medicine, the problem of medication errors could be overcome with better communication between patients and health care professionals, along with the development of consumer-friendly information resources that would allow patients to get medication information. The report also cited the need for better packaging, labeling and naming of several medications to reduce errors and confusion, and the report also called for additional electronic prescriptions.

Rising numbers

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, there were 1.2 million people injured or who became ill because they were given or took the wrong dose or kind of medication or experienced side effects from the medication that they took in 2004. In 2008, this number had risen to 1.9 million people.

These figures from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality were only on patients who received treatment in an emergency room or hospital because of a medication error. Also, these figures do not separate between dispensing, consumer or prescribing medication errors.

Different causes

Some of the medication errors were brought about by a nurse or pharmacist giving the wrong medication. Other medication errors were due to the person at home taking the wrong dose or kind of medication or a doctor prescribing the wrong dose or medication.

In people who went into the hospital because they had taken the wrong dose or kind of medication, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the most common type of medications that were resulting in injuries or side effects were corticosteroids. Some of the other medications that led to large numbers of people having to go into the hospital were cancer medications, pain relievers, blood pressure and heart drugs and blood thinners.

If you have been a victim of medication errors, you may need to consult a personal injury attorney.
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