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FDA Issues Warning Over Serious Medication Error

Medication errors are one of the most common forms of medical malpractice. An estimated one million medication mistakes occur every year, resulting in the death of over 7,000 patients.

One of the jobs of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to track medication error reports. The agency defines a medication error as “any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient, or consumer.” When it spots a high incidence of reports associated with a particular drug, the FDA often issues a safety alert.

Most recently, the FDA alerted healthcare providers to errors associated with the administration of nimodipine oral capsules. The drug is used to treat neurologic complications from ruptured blood vessels in the brain, known as a subarachnoid hemorrhage.

According to the FDA, nimodipine capsules should only be given by mouth or through a feeding tube. However, the agency continues to receive reports of erroneous intravenous nimodipine use.

Unfortunately, the medication error can have serious, even fatal, consequences. Of the 31 medication errors reported to the FDA, four of the patients died; five patients experienced near-death events; and one patient suffered permanent harm due to the incorrect IV administration of nimodipine.