Every medication comes with a certain degree of danger. Drugs carry side effects that can impact someone’s health, and any drug can interact with other medications. Some people are allergic to a drug and don’t realize it until after they take a dose or even several.
Those risks are a concern even when everything goes right with the administration of a medication. When the medical professionals involved in the formulation, storage or distribution make a mistake, the danger to the patient increases significantly.
Although there’s no way for a patient to completely eliminate the risk of mistakes made by the people administering their medications, they can help themselves by knowing what drugs put them at most risk of a medical mistake so that they can monitor the care they receive appropriately.
What kind of medication carries the most serious risk?
Researchers try to make sense of the patterns related to medical mistakes so that they can help hospitals and medical professionals avoid making them. When grouping drugs based on the risk of medical error, it isn’t the effect of the drug that matters as much as the way that medical professionals administer it.
Generally, people receive medication via injection, orally or through intravenous delivery, often over the course of multiple hours. If you are like most people, you might think that IV infusions have the lowest risk for patients suffering medical mistakes, but you would be wrong.
Overall, when medical professionals administer medication to a patient, they have an 8%-25% risk of making a mistake. When they administer the medication through IV systems, the rate of errors increases to between 48% and 53%.
IV medication mistakes can take many different forms
Dosage mistakes, meaning that a patient receives more of a medication than they should, are common. Timing errors are a big risk, meaning that the drug doesn’t get delivered on the schedule that it should.
It’s also possible for someone to receive the wrong medication or a drug improperly mixed by a pharmacy technician. Errors when setting up the IV unit and mixing the liquid could cause harm to a patient.
How do you prove there was a medical mistake?
Sometimes, there is clear documentation or lack thereof in your medical chart that shows a professional involved in your care administered the wrong dose, the wrong drug or the right drug at the wrong rate. Any of these mistakes could affect your health and make your recovery that much more difficult.
Asking for copies of your medical records could help you demonstrate errors that occurred in your care. If you notice timing errors or similar issues while hospitalized, you could use your mobile phone to take pictures of the digital display for the IV system or keep a notebook recording dosage and timing issues.
Those with verifiable financial costs stemming from medication mistakes may be able to bring a malpractice claim against the facility or professional that made the error.