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Jim Lewis
Jim Lewis
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Medication Errors Hurt or Kill Millions of Americans – Where’s the Reform?

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An extensive national study was conducted in 2006 which indicates over roughly 1.5 million Americans are seriously injured or killed by medication errors, according to the Washington Post.

Some of the most common medication errors include:

· Allergic/anaphylactic reactions

· Narcotic pain medication over dosage

· Coumadin anticoagulant dosage error

· Drug name confusion

· Insulin administration error

· Adverse drug interactions

· Medication bottle labeling error

· Drug infusion pump programming error

· Confusing drug packaging

· Use of error prone abbreviations

· Miscalculation of proper pediatric dosage

The study indicates that 400,000 preventable prescription drug injuries occur each year in hospitals, another 800,000 occur in long-term care settings, and nearly 530,000 occur just among people on Medicare in outpatient clinics, according to nationalacademies.org . If that wasn’t bad enough, the study indicated these numbers are likely underestimates!

The cost associated with these medication/prescription drug errors is nearly $3.5 billion, and that’s a conservative estimate. Sadly, with all of the rhetoric spewed during the health care debate about tort reform, very few people took the time to talk about the need to reform the prescription drug industry. The numbers lead one to believe we could save a lot of money simply by improving the delivery and accuracy of prescription drugs in this country.

The evidence is clear – far too many people are getting seriously injured or killed by inaccurate and improperly handled prescription drugs. And these errors can turn a perfectly harmless drug (when properly administered) into a highly dangerous drug.

I hope that once a health care bill finally gets passed (whether it this year or sometime in the future) our legislators take a serious look at reforming the prescription drug industry.

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm (VA-NC law offices ) edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono service to consumers.