Study finds way of reducing medication errors

Any time a mistake happens in a hospital, the consequences could be fatal. As such, it is crucial for hospitals to thoroughly examine any potential solutions that could minimize errors and save patient lives. 

One such solution that hospitals across Albuquerque and the rest of the U.S. may be considering is having a pharmacy professional take medication histories in the Emergency Room. Currently, doctors or nurses usually do this. However, a study revealed that having a pharmacy staff member fulfill this role could lead to a whopping 80 percent drop in medication errors.

Is this a serious problem?

Medication errors are, unfortunately, not uncommon. In fact, hundreds of thousands of patients suffer adverse events stemming from medication injuries every year, and often these injuries stem from errors in a patient's medication history.

If a medication history is wrong, then a doctor could prescribe or administer drugs that lead to harmful interactions with another medication. A patient might also suffer an allergic reaction or overdose.

In the context of an emergency room, there is typically a lot going on with many physicians and nurses responding to a single patient. Information can be overlooked, misunderstood or improperly recorded.

How a pharmacy professional helps

The study revealed that having a pharmacy staff person present to take medication histories during emergency cases is very effective in collecting a complete, accurate record of medications.

A pharmacy professional can focus on the tasks of confirming medications, scrutinizing medical records and talking to the patient or family members to secure information. Without this person, doctors and nurses typically collect medication histories, which can be incredibly challenging when they are also providing emergency care.

Whether other hospitals around the country decide to adopt this practice remains to be seen. In the meantime, it is crucial for hospitals and doctors to ensure they are taking steps to minimize medication errors in other ways. If these efforts fail or are ignored, then patients and/or their families may have grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

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