The Top 10 Most Common Prescription Drug Errors

Pharmaceutical drugs exist to promote a variety of positive health outcomes, such as a reduction in symptoms, pain management, lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, and more. However, if not taken correctly, instead of having the desired positive effects, prescription medications can cause injuries. Injuries can occur for a number of reasons, but all present a danger to the patient – severe illness, shock, and even death can occur due to prescription drug errors.

Some prescription drug errors result as a mistake by the patient taking the drug. Many other errors result as a mistake by the physician writing the prescription or the pharmacy filling the prescription. Read on for a list of common errors, categorized by the source of the error.

Most Common Patient Errors

A standard prescription drug label includes instructions for dosing, frequency, timing, and often some other pertinent information for taking your medication. After you receive a prescription medication from a physician, it is crucial to spend time reading the label. Unfortunately, patients occasionally misread or fail to heed the instructions on the label, endangering their health.

Common patient errors include:

  • Incorrect dosage. Sometimes, patients simply misread the correct dosage and take an incorrect dosage of their medications. Too-high doses can result in overdose injuries, shock, and death, while too-low doses fail to treat the condition, worsening symptoms.
  • Expired medications. Sometimes, patients encountering an illness or condition they already experienced in the past will utilize unused medication from the past condition to combat the current condition. However, prescriptions have expiration dates and may be less effective or more potent after the expiration date passes.
  • Timing errors. Patients making timing errors take prescriptions at improper times of the day, which may lessen their effectiveness. Cholesterol drugs are a good example of a drug more effective at a certain time of day – one should take these drugs at night in order to fight increased cholesterol produced during the night.
  • Rate of usage errors. Patients may misread or misunderstand the frequency at which they should take the medication, either over- or under-dosing in the process. Such alterations in dosing can cause injury or reduce the positive effects of the medication.
  • Combining medication errors. Patients prescribed more than one medication or taking over the counter medications or vitamins may inadvertently combine medications that interact negatively. Some interactions can be dangerous or fatal, while others can reduce the efficacy of one or both medications.

Most Common Provider Errors

Other prescription errors come from the physician prescribing the medication or the pharmacy filling the prescription. Frequency of such errors ranges anywhere from 5 to 80%. Common provider errors include:

  • Wrong drug errors. A physician or pharmacist may inadvertently prescribe the wrong drug to a patient. If the patient is not in need of the positive effects of the drug, he or she may experience injury, while missing the benefits of the correct drug to alleviate their symptoms.
  • Wrong patient errors. Similar to wrong drug errors, wrong patient errors result in a patient taking the incorrect drug. In addition, the correct patient may not receive a medication at all. In both cases, either prescription may interact negatively with another prescription taken by the patient.
  • The wrong dose or frequency errors. Mislabeling a medication label can result in the patient taking multiple doses of the medication, or taking the medication too frequently or not frequently enough. Such errors can result in overdose or worsening of symptoms.
  • Wrong formulation errors. Many drugs come in multiple formulations, such as extended release, quick release, and so on. Patients receiving the wrong formulations may experience overloading of the drug in the system due to multiple delayed release doses.
  • Drug combination errors. If a physician erroneously prescribes two drugs with negative interactions together, the patient will experience the negative interaction even if he takes both prescriptions as instructed.

Prescription drug errors can cause severe ill effects for patients. If you believe you have experienced a prescription drug error as the result of a prescribing error by a physician or pharmacist, it is important to contact the Seattle medical malpractice attorney at Washington Injury Law immediately.