Preventing Medication Errors Saves Lives and Cash

Research suggests that the risks posed by medication errors are a major concern both in the US and globally

Preventing Medication Errors Saves Lives and Cash

Research suggests that the risks posed by medication errors are a major concern both in the US and globally. In the US, medication errors are one of the most common types of medical malpractice, with more than 1.5 million people injured each year as a result of errors made in prescribing, administering and monitoring prescription drugs and other medications, according to a study by the Institute of Medicine. An estimated 400,000 of the cases are considered to have been preventable adverse events (ADEs).

Abroad, about 1% of all patients in Australian hospitals suffer adverse effects as a result of a medication error, while in the UK and other countries medication errors are also prevalent. Mistakes involving medicine can involve prescription drugs, over-the-counter products, vitamins, and herbal supplements, and can also include contamination and compounding errors, according to Cogan & Power, P.C., accident and injury attorneys.

Due to the frequency that these errors occur, establishing systems and protocols to detect and prevent errors has been a high priority for researchers and doctors. Most studies conducted on the matter show evidence that automated medication dispensers are most effective at distributing the correct medication and dosage compared to other methods used overwhelmingly today in hospitals and medical facilities.

In one study 1,476 medications for 115 patients were looked at by researchers. After an automated dispensing system was implemented, taking the place of a manual system, the researchers noticed that the total opportunities for error decreased significantly, by almost 5%. Likewise, an analysis of detailed opportunities for error showed that the automated dispensing system had a significant impact on reducing preparation errors.

The data from a separate study, published in JAMIA, also showed that real-time automated systems are superior, in that they are less prone to errors, than are traditional methods of administering meds. 

These studies, along with other mounting evidence, points to the numerous advantages of using advanced systems that incorporate information technology. Examples of these systems that have been shown to prevent and decrease the number of errors include computerized physician order entry, automated dispensing cabinets, bedside bar-coded medication administration, and electronic medication reconciliation.

Errors related to medication are not only detrimental and costly to the patient receiving the incorrect dosage or wrong medication, but to the patient’s family, the doctors and the healthcare system as a whole. Medication errors cost the healthcare system an estimated $3.5 billion in extra medical expenses each year. From the studies, it has emerged that using advanced systems equipped with information technology could potentially save the healthcare industry approximately $88 billion over a decade in the US alone. This projection is made based on evidence that shows that hospitals with automated notes and records, order entry, and clinical decision support experience less complications, lower mortality rates and decreased costs.

Date Of Update: 29 June 2020, 17:40