MEDICAL ERRORS IN HOSPITALS 6
MedicalErrors in Hospitals
MedicalErrors in Hospitals
Thehealthcare sector remains one of the most fundamental sectors in thecontemporary human society. It is charged with the responsibility forensuring that the prevalent ailments have at least a remedy or somecure. Of particular note is the fact that there is a connectionbetween healthcare and economic wellbeing as only healthy individualshave the capacity to undertake economic building activities. On thesame note, increased attention has, in the recent times, been focusedon the multiplicity of medical errors that have become prevalent.Medical errors refer to preventable events that result in medicationsbeing administered or used in an inappropriate manner (Liang, 2002).This may, for instance, occur in instances where a patient takesover-the-counter medications that incorporate acetaminophen when heor she is already taking prescription pain medication incorporatingacetaminophen, thereby exceeding the recommended dosage and puttingoneself at the risk of damage of the liver. These also occur ininstances where the wrong dose of the right medication is given,where medication is administered at the wrong time and when it isprovided in the inappropriate way, for instance, in form of pillsrather than in liquid form. As much as these errors may seemharmless, mistakes pertaining to the prescription, administration anddispensation of medications are known to be injurious to over amillion people in the United States every year. However, it has beenacknowledged that as much as medication errors may occur at anyplace, a large number of them take place in pharmacies, doctors’offices and hospitals. This raises questions regarding the reasonswhy these errors have become so common especially in these particularplaces.
Oneof the major reasons for the occurrence of medical errors is poorcommunication between the physicians or healthcare providers. Moreoften than not, an individual patient will visit varied healthcareproviders. This means that there will be extensive medicalinformation and history behind every ailment, which could be crucialto the successful or effective treatment of the same (Cohen, 2000).This would necessitate that the current physician communicatesappropriately with the previous practitioners who have been treatingthe patient so as to clear out any pertinent issues and allow forproper diagnosis, treatment, as well as dispensation of medications.In instances where this does not happen in a sufficient and effectivemanner, it is highly likely that there will be a misdiagnosis andsubsequently, wrong medication or dosage will be offered to thepatient (Sharpe, 2001).
Onthe same note, medical errors are common as a result of poorcommunication between the patient and his or her physician. As noted,the importance of a patient’s history cannot be gainsaid as far asproper diagnosis is concerned. More often than not, physicians askpatients questions pertaining to their medical history (Wu, 2001).Unfortunately, the patients may choose to answer these questions in aparticular manner so as to have particular results. On otheroccasions, they may not sufficiently comprehend the questions or evenhave proper knowledge regarding what the physicians are asking, butstill choose to answer the questions. This would, undoubtedly resultin misdiagnosis, which would, consequently result in theadministration of inappropriate or wrong dosage (Croskerry,2009).This may also be compounded by instances where the medicalpractitioner forgets the history of the patient. Indeed, there areinstances where a practitioner knows that the patient is allergic tocertain components or medications but forgets about it in the courseof prescription and administration of the medication. Such memorylapses may be combated through having other healthcare professionalsgo through the history and the medications prescribed so as to avoidthe possibility for misdiagnosis or prescription of the wrongmedication (Liang & Storti 2000).
Inaddition, medical errors commonly occur as a result of similarmedical abbreviations or even in instances where medication nameshave similar sounds. More often than not, physicians writeabbreviations of medications so as to allow the patient to pick themedication from chemists and pharmacies. This introduces a new frontfor administration of wrong medication (Liang & Storti 2000). Ofparticular note is the fact this scenario has a higher likelihood foroccurrence in instances where the nurses or junior physicians do nothave the requisite medical knowledge or in instances where there ispoor and ineffective communication among the varied health careprofessionals.
Further,there are action-based medical errors which occur when the physicianhas a attention slip. This may be seen, for instance, when aphysician takes a bottle of diazepam from the shelf while he intendedto take one that incorporates diltiazem. Studies have shown that alarge proportion of medical errors occurred as a result of attentionslips and were prevalent in the course of routine drugadministration, prescription and dispensing (Byers&White, 2004).These may be minimized through the creation of conditions where it isunlikely for the same to happen, for instance, averting thepossibility of distractions, cross-checking, proper labelling ofmedications and the use of identifiers like bar-codes. Further,scholars have proposed that “Tall Man” lettering is used wherelower-case and upper-case letters are mixed in the same word so as toavoid misreading of drug labels (Liang & Storti 2000).
Lastly,the increased prevalence of medical errors may be explained byconfusing directions or illegible medical prescriptions. There arenumerous instances where the prescriptions for particular medicationswill not be clear enough to the patient. Unfortunately, patients maynot even notice them or even have the ability to clarify from thephysicians. Indeed, a large number of patients tend to ignore such“minor” deficiencies, which essentially results in theconsumption of higher dosage or wrong combination of medications(Byers&White, 2004).
Inconclusion, the prevalence of medical errors in hospitals is aworrying trend. It goes without saying that there are numerousexplanations for the occurrence of these errors. As much as they maybe seen as simple, there is a high possibility that such errors willhave devastating effects on the lives and health of the patients and,possibly, the careers of healthcare professionals. Nevertheless,there are numerous remedies for the same. Indeed, such errors arepreventable using considerably simple remedies including propercommunication between the physician and patients, as well as amongphysicians. Indeed, it is imperative that the patients confirm ininstances where they are not clear about what is being asked or theinstructions that are given. Further, it is imperative that anypertinent issue is disclosed to the physicians so as to avert thepossibility of administration of medication that would trigger anallergic reaction.
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Croskerry,P. (2009). Patientsafety in emergency medicine.Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams &Wilkins.
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