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Possible sources of medication errors that may be overlooked

The widespread adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) is one of several efforts meant to provide added protection for patients in Iowa and the rest of the country. Nevertheless, there are some possible safety risks associated with how medication is prescribed and handled that may not be on everybody's radar. With EHRs alone, it's estimated that nearly 70 wrong-patient errors occur per 100,000 medication orders. The number of hospitalized patients receiving orders intended for other patients is also surprisingly significant, affecting one out of every 37 patients.

EHR errors that might lead to medical malpractice litigation may be made by pharmacists, doctors, or anyone else who may be authorized to access patient records. Nurses are less likely to make EHR errors than radiology and outpatient providers, who have higher error rates. Common reasons for such mistakes include interruptions and having multiple records open simultaneously. Research suggests requiring patient ID verification may reduce EHR errors by as much as 30 percent.

More than 80 percent of nurses also report diluting adult intravenous (IV) push medications prior to administering them. Some nurses do the same with pre-filled syringes. The reason for doing so is to allow drugs to be safely administered slowly. However, this practice sometimes increases the risk of contamination and infection. Another potential medication error involves confusing lines that list the patient's dose with the available concentration for different drugs on electronic records. Part of the reason for this error may be that pharmacists are typically used to seeing concentration levels first while doctors and nurses are accustomed to viewing patient dosages immediately next to the drug name.

One of the many reasons a client may hire a lawyer after an unexpected health-related issue is because of suspected medical professional negligence. If medication errors could be involved, an attorney may review the situation and consider all potential legal remedies.

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