Medication errors, such as administering the wrong prescription, dispensing
the incorrect dosage, and failing to detect adverse side effects, are
some of the most common medical mistakes. Overall, medication mistakes
injure more than one million people a year in the United States.
While many hospitals are implementing electronic ordering systems and other
high-tech tools as a means to curb medication errors, a recent study confirms
that they are far from foolproof. In fact, they may fail to detect potentially
deadly drug orders.
Leapfrog Group’s study examined the effectiveness of Computerized
Physician Order Entry (CPOE) systems, which allow doctors to enter medication
orders into a computer system. The system checks the medication order
against patient information, such as allergies, existing medications,
and lab results, and is supposed to flag any potential issues.
While CPOE systems have the potential to
detect harmful medical errors, Leapfrog found that there is still a lot of room for improvement. When
hospitals tested their computer systems using orders that all contained
potentially harmful, preventable errors, the systems failed to detect
39 percent of potentially harmful orders. Even more concerning, the CPOE
systems missed 13 percent of potentially fatal orders. The most common
medication errors missed by the CPOE systems included prescribing patients
the incorrect drug, ordering an incorrect dosage of a drug, and failing
to conduct follow-up tests.
“Technology exists to help with detecting medical errors at the point
of when you're entering drug orders in the hospital or health care
settings,” Jesse Pines, directory of the Office for Clinical Practice
Innovation at George Washington University,
told Kaiser Health News. “But they're not perfect. They still need a lot of work.”
The study’s findings highlight that it is imperative that health
care facilities have other safeguards in place to detect errors before
they can cause patient harm. Safety advocates also encourage patients
to speak up if they are concerned about a medication.
If you or someone you care about has suffered serious harm due to medication
error or other serious medical mistake, you may be entitled to compensation.
For more information, please contact
a San Diego medical malpractice attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage
for a free consultation.