At some point, even healthy people will likely require a prescription medication to eliminate or diminish a medical condition. Intentionally or inadvertently misused, the pills dispensed in the small container can trigger serious medical reactions.
Factors such as the type of medication, number of doses prescribed daily, dosage amount and time of day combine with the patient’s age and the knowledge level of the person administering it raise legal questions about liability.
Sources of medication dispensing errors lie in recognizing those who have access to the medication from the time of order to use the patient. Four primary groups possess and have control over the medication at some point. Circumstances unique to each group leave them vulnerable to dispensing errors. They include:
- Patients: The World Health Organization claims more than half of patients do not take medications as prescribed. Also, many do not take medications at the proper time. Serious consequences result when multiple physicians prescribe medications from different pharmacies.
- Caregivers: Whether family members, friends or professionals, these people remain susceptible to distractions when administering medications due to stress.
- Pharmacists: A failure to review the prescription before administering them can have serious consequences, even with software designed to flag inappropriate doses.
- Payers: They can encourage providers and pharmacies to minimize errors by discouraging reliance on self-reporting as a means of monitoring patient medication.
How common are medication dispensing errors?
Statistics for 2022 reflect that errors related to medication dispensation remain a significant issue for patients and professionals alike. Medication dispensation errors account for nearly 75% of all medication errors. Only 67% of parents could accurately repeat instructions for medication use. Astonishingly, 30% of injuries in hospital settings have a root cause in medication errors.
Casual regard for dispensing medications can reap serious health and legal consequences. Every individual who handles medication assumes a legal role to ensure its accurate delivery to and proper administration. Attorneys who understand the balance between responsibility and liability can offer guidance.