The overwhelming majority of healthcare providers – a group that includes physicians, nurses, pharmacists and therapists, as well as managers of medical facilities – are extremely conscientious about providing the best quality care they can. But despite current technologies, most doctors still hand-write a prescription, while pharmacists and nurses fulfill and distribute those unclear prescriptions as best they can.
The problems can start with a physician’s handwriting, which might be difficult to read. When a fatigued nurse or pharmacist misreads the name of the medication, or doesn’t get the quantities right, the wrong medication or wrong dosage may be administered to a patient – something that can lead to a seriously adverse outcome.
This happens with disturbing frequency. The Journal of Nursing Care Quality reported a study that showed 10 to 18 percent of hospital injuries are due to medication errors, and that some hospitals improperly medicate an average of 1.9 patients per day. When that happens, a hospital stay will be extended by an average of more than four days, increasing costs by more than $4,600 per patient.
The vast majority of medication administration errors (about 95 percent) go unreported, but of those that are reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, five percent are fatal.
Dr. Michael M. Wilson is an attorney and a physician who earned his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his legal and medical degrees from Georgetown University. He has focused in the area of medical malpractice for more than three decades and secured more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts on behalf of clients throughout the country. He is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and New York as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is listed in America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.