Medical errors can be a form of medical malpractice and are regarded as under-recognized causes of death in the United States. Beginning in 2016, John Hopkins University patient safety experts began reporting that a full 10% of deaths in the U.S. are caused by some type of medical error. Medical error is the third leading cause of death in the country. This includes an alarming number of medication error deaths that occur each year.
Rate of medication errors in the United States
A type of medical negligence, medication errors occur far too frequently. Approximately 1.5 million medication errors occur in the United States each year. That computes to the occurrence of a medication error once every 21 seconds.
Common causes of medication errors
The world-renowned Mayo Clinic has concluded that communication problems are a major underlying cause of medication errors. According to the Mayo Clinic, medication errors commonly occur because of:
- Poor communication between doctors and patients
- Poor communication between doctors and other health care providers, including pharmacists and nursing staff
- Different medications with similar-sounding names
- Different medications that look alike
- Confusing medical abbreviations
- Poorly written or expressed instructions relating to a medication
Other factors that contribute to medication errors include fatigued staff members as well as mistakes associated with the dosage of a drug.
Medication errors can have life-altering consequences, and they can be fatal. A person who has been harmed as the result of such a mistake, or the family members of a patient who has died from one, will want to meet with an experienced medical malpractice attorney in order to learn more about what recourse might be available.