Along with the recent rise in hospitalizations across the country, patients in Georgia and elsewhere continue to be at risk from medication errors that can lead to harmful or fatal incidents. When improperly medicated, the harm to patients from an adverse drug event (ADE) can be deadly.
A medication error is the omission or commission of any step in the process from the medical provider’s prescription and dosage of a medication to the patient’s exposure to the medication. Every year, ADE’s are responsible for almost 700,000 emergency room visits and 100,000 hospitalizations. Up to 50% of these ADE’s are preventable.
Among the elderly, ADE’s pose a great risk. While there are estimates that nearly one in three adults in the United States take five or more medications, among the elderly this number is often greater, as they may have multiple health conditions. More than half of all Medicare patients who are admitted to emergency rooms due to an ADE have taken one of four types of medications:
- antidiabetic agents
- antiplatelet agents
- oral anticoagulants
- opioid medications
The role of electronic health records in medication errors
Electronic health records (EHR’s) were first implemented in the 1960’s as a more efficient alternative to the hand-written records and filing systems that then existed. Adopted universally in hospitals across the country, EHR’s streamline the process of identifying risk factors in patient histories that will alert medical providers of medication safety problems. These computerized systems should issue warning to doctors of the dangers of prescribing medications to patients, based on their medical history, that could result in:
- adverse drug interactions
- allergic reactions
- excessive dosages
Computer systems routinely adapt their EHR software to address each hospital’s unique needs, however, which means that safety performance measures may vary from one location to another. As of 2018, EHR systems failed to catch one in three potential medication errors.
Pursuing a medical malpractice claim in Georgia
Proving a medical malpractice suit in Albany and surrounding areas can be challenging, and it will require well-documented evidence and knowledge of the healthcare industry to prove negligence on the part of the medical provider, nurse, or pharmacist. It is important to explore your legal options as you develop an effective strategy to recover maximum compensation for the damages you have suffered.