Physicians serve a gatekeeping role for prescribed drugs. They must evaluate patients and determine what treatment they require. They also need to oversee the administration of medications to prevent abuse and minimize the risk of poor reactions among their patients.
Ideally, doctors will be aware of the most current research regarding different drugs to help their patients get the best treatment possible. Unfortunately, medication errors are common and still harm many patients each year. The following are the most common medication errors that occur in the U.S.
Physicians only spend a few minutes, on average, with each patient. They could very easily overlook information about the medications or herbal supplements that patients already take. Medications can dangerously interact with one another. Sometimes, they increase each other’s effect. Other times, they may negate one another. Either scenario could cause medical harm.
Physicians sometimes prescribe medications that patients don’t need. For example, they might prescribe antidepressants when someone does not have significant enough symptoms for a mental health diagnosis. Additionally, they may prescribe too many pain relievers or muscle relaxants, which could put someone at risk of a fatal overdose.
Mistakes on the actual prescription
Whether a doctor still uses a printed pad to hand-write prescriptions or submits their recommendation electronically to the pharmacy, it only takes a minor mistake to impact someone’s treatment negatively. A spelling error might lead to the dispensation of the wrong drugs, while illegible or mistyped numbers might lead to someone receiving inappropriately high or low doses of a drug.
Patients who have poor reactions to medications or who do not respond to treatment due to medication errors may have grounds to hold a physician accountable for their failings. Being able to identify medication errors can help patients better advocate for themselves after a mistake has been made.