Medication errors, like all medical errors, can occur in a variety of settings for a variety of reasons. One particular area of health care where they are likely to occur, though, is in the emergency room. Because of the fast pace of emergency room facilities, the chances of medication errors occurring is greater than in other medical settings. Doctors may not always put the time in to determine what drug interactions may occur, or may write down the incorrect prescription by mistake, among other things.

Because of this, some hospitals across the country are taking steps to reign in the problem. Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, for instance has hired a number of emergency pharmacists to be on call to review prescriptions prior to their being filled and administered. This review process is particularly important for the hospital, since medication errors are more likely to occur with children. 

While other hospitals have attempted something similar to this, most do not have the luxury of having pharmacists on staff at all hours to review prescriptions. One of the big reasons is the high cost of doing so.  Although hospitals may be able to save money by catching medication errors early—doing so can help prevent readmissions—the benefits may not outweigh the costs, particularly for small hospitals. 

Physicians, of course, are expected to exercise care in prescribing and administering medications. Failure to do so can sometimes result in harm to patients. When this happens, the injured patient may have a case for medical malpractice. Those who have been seriously harmed by a medication error should contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to determine the best course of action to take for recovery.

Source: NPR, “Hospitals Put Pharmacists In The ER To Cut Medication Errors,” Lauren Silverman, June 9, 2014.