Safety in the hospital depends on so many factors that even one mistake could mean the difference between life and death. One of these factors can be easy to overlook, because it does not have the simultaneous stress and glamor of major surgery or emergency response care.Medication is an important aspect to recovery from illness or injury, and thus medication error can be a silent killer that takes the lives of thousands of America’s seniors every year.
With the amount of currency that we as a nation pump into the healthcare system, one would expect that medical interventions would yield more good than harm. However, our country’s nursing homes have been failing to meet even this bare minimum standard of care.
How bad is the problem overall? According to Scientific American, “Preventable medical mistakes and infections are responsible for about 200,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, according to an investigation by the Hearst media corporation. The report comes 10 years after the Institute of Medicine’s “To Err Is Human” analysis, which found that 44,000 to 98,000 people were dying annually due to these errors and called for the medical community and government to cut that number in half by 2004.” This information highlights a profound disconnect between the quality of care we are paying for and quality of care we are getting.
Many medical disasters result from medication errors, and these types of errors can stem from a variety of factors, including:
- Administrative confusion
- Failure to determine whether secondary interactions among different medications might cause problems
- Failure to monitor patients for side effects
- Nurse error
- Use of medication to blunt pain, which results in a failure to identify the root cause of the pain in time to address it properly
In an effort to combat these mistakes, the US Department of Health and Human Services recommends these 9 excellent tips to increase your safety in the hospital through the prevention of medication errors:
- Make sure that all of your doctors know about every medicine you are taking
- Bring all of your medicines and supplements to your doctor visits
- Make sure your doctor knows about any allergies and adverse reactions you have had to medicines
- When your doctor writes a prescription for you, make sure you can read it
- Ask for information about your medicines in terms you can understand—both when your medicines are prescribed and when you get them:
- What is the medicine for?
- How am I supposed to take it and for how long?
- What side effects are likely?
- What do I do if they occur?
- Is this medicine safe to take with other medicines or dietary supplements I am taking?
- What food, drink, or activities should I avoid while taking this medicine?
- When you pick up your medicine from the pharmacy, ask: “Is this the medicine that my doctor prescribed?”
- If you have any questions about the directions on your medicine labels, ask
- Ask your pharmacist for the best device to measure your liquid medicine
- Ask for written information about the side effects your medicine could cause
It can be very difficult to know how to pursue appropriate legal action if a loved one has experienced medication error or general diminished safety in the hospital. After all, dealing with a sick relative who has suddenly been rendered even sicker due to a medication error can be all consuming, emotionally and logistically.
Fortunately, potential claimants have an ally in Malman Law, PC. Our knowledgeable attorneys will strive to protect your rights and see that justice is done. Additionally, our verdicts and settlements demonstrate that our tenacity leads to results. Safety in the hospital is a right that all nursing home patients should enjoy. Find out more at www.MalmanLaw.com, or request a Free Case Evaluation today.