Medication errors are preventable events due to the inappropriate use of medications. Medication errors that cause harm are called preventable adverse drug events. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) receives more than 100,000 U.S. reports each year associated with a suspected medication error – and these are only the errors that are caught and reported. Almost all medication errors are preventable.
When you entrust your health to a licensed medical team, you expect them to provide quality care and protect you from harm. If your needs include taking medication prescribed by a physician, you should also be able to expect that the Texas doctor prescribing the medication, the pharmacy dispensing the medication, or the nurses administering the medication will take the proper precautions to keep you safe.
One of the fundamental rules that nurses in Texas and throughout the country are required to follow to keep patients safe when administering medication is the “5 Rights of Medication Administration” system.
Each “R” has a specific purpose
In providing a medication to a patient, a healthcare provider must make sure that he or she is giving the medication correctly. If a nurse is negligent while providing medication care to you, it could cause severe, perhaps, even life-threatening injury. The healthcare provider administering the medication must make sure that they have the
- Right patient
- Are administering the Right medication
- In the Right dosage
- Via the Right route to administer (oral versus by IV)
- At the Right time
Your medical records and doctor’s orders are stored in the hospital’s computer system if you have been admitted for care. Most pharmacy systems are similarly automatized and there is no reason a healthcare provider should make a mistake if reasonable care is taken.
Medical negligence has resulted in tragedy many times over
If a nurse gives you a medication that is meant for another patient, the results may be disastrous, especially if you happen to be allergic to the drug you receive, or it has a dangerous interaction with another medication you’re taking.
Using the 5 R system is an easy way to prevent errors and to keep patients safe. Even if a particular medical facility does not use “The 5 Rights of Medication” specifically as part of its protocol, nurses are still obligated to provide quality care and keep a patient as safe as possible, especially when administering drugs.
Recovering from a medication error
In a case we previously handled, a woman was given a serious overdose of a medication in the hospital after the doctor wrote the wrong prescription, the hospital pharmacy filled it, and the nurse administered the medication. Tragically, the woman did not survive.
If you survive a medication error, it might take time for you to heal. In addition to physical damage and trauma that may have occurred through negligence, being given an overdose or the wrong drug is a frightening and emotionally traumatic experience, as well.
If it happens to be your child who has suffered a medical injury, you might feel frustrated, betrayed or even angry that medical professionals didn’t do what they should have done to keep your child safe. Many patients, or parents of patients who are minors, have sought justice following incidents of substandard medical care in a Texas medical facility by filing medical malpractice claims in civil court.