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Checklists Could Help Prevent Medication Errors


Medication errors are a serious problem in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), medication errors are responsible for 700,000 emergency room visits and 120,000 hospitalizations in the U.S. each year. What is worse, an estimated 40 percent of medication errors are preventable.


According to a recent study published in the journal Perspectives in Health Information Management, electronic checklists may play a crucial role in reducing the incidence of medication errors. The study, which was conducted at a large hospital in central Texas, focused on older patients, who not only tend to take more medications than younger patients, but also more frequently forget the names and dosages of their medications.


A previous study discovered that approximately 27 percent of all medication errors occur because doctors and nurses do not have easy access to patient medical history information. The use of electronic medical records with decision making aids such as checklists to help identify possible medical history errors can help ensure that medical staff has the most up-to-date and accurate information possible.


The hospital in the Texas study moved to electronic medical records in early 2011. The records include an electronic list of all medication names, which helped to eliminate simple errors arising out of incorrectly typing in the name of a drug. The records system also had alert functions that helped ensure that dosing errors do not occur.


Although future research is likely to identify still more techniques for reducing medication errors, it is clear that the use of electronic medical records have an important role to play. The need for new approaches to prevent medication errors is essential because the risk of these sorts of errors is likely to increase in the future. Indeed, an aging population, combined with the development of new drugs, the discovery of new uses for old drugs, and an increased use of drugs for disease prevention mean that medication errors will continue to be a problem for years to come.


A Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

If you or someone you love has suffered injury due to a medication error by a physician or other medical professional, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can assess your case and help you get the compensation you deserve for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. For more information, contact an attorney today.

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