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When Nurses Make Medication Errors, Wrongful Death Can Occur

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Nurses are often thought of as the backbone of the medical industry. They are there for patients during their darkest hours and offer support to the doctors who need them. Unfortunately, however, they often make costly and sometimes fatal mistakes.

The Role of the Nurse in Medication Errors

Nurses are often liaisons between doctors and patients in a variety of aspects, including medication administration. They are involved in the prescription process, including dosage calculation and detecting errors. They are also there to correct mistakes before medication has been given to the patient.  And although nurses certainly have stopped countless numbers of patients from receiving the incorrect medications, they have also contributed to errors that have cost lives.

Drug errors are the most common medical mistake and account for about $3.5 billion per year in added medical costs. This figure includes actions taken to resolve issues that occur as a result of the mistakes, which the patient ends up paying for. Additionally, about one-third of all medication mistakes that result in harm to the patient are made during the nurse administration phase, and they commonly include:

  • Wrong dosage
  • Delayed or wrong time of administration
  • Allergy-related errors
  • Medication calculation errors
  • Unauthorized medication administration
  • Medication omission without acceptable clinical reason
  • Medication administered to the incorrect patient
  • Medication administered at the incorrect rate
  • Medication administered through the incorrect route

Why Nursing Errors Occur

If you’ve spent any time in a hospital for treatment, you likely noticed just how hard nurses work, and just how long, as well. In fact, these very attributes could be the core reasons for why these errors take place: long shifts and the resulting fatigue from working for so long. Researchers found that the likelihood of errors is three times higher when staff members work 12.5 hours or more in a shift. This could be due to the fatigue they experience, as well as the sheer volume of patients they are forced to see during these shifts. They may be unable to think clearly and differentiate between patients, and cause medication errors as a result. Additionally, nurses are 2.5 times more likely to experience burn-outs and job dissatisfaction when regularly working shifts of 10 hours or more.

How the Hospital Could Protect You

Hospitals may be able to limit the amount of medication mistakes made by creating better working conditions for nurses. Employers are required to uphold policies and statutory requirements to limit nurses’ shift lengths and hours worked per week, However, by reducing the amount of time that nurses are required to work, hospitals may be able to cut down the frequency of medication errors. Additionally, interruptions are often a major source of mistakes, and by limiting the amount that nurses experience, error reduction may occur.

When a Medication Error Causes Wrongful Death

Nurses aren’t the only medical professionals who make medication errors: doctors, pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians are also guilty of committing these dangerous mistakes. And although many safeguards are in place to prevent these errors from happening, including computer programs that are designed to detect dangerous drug interactions, not all potential problems are identified and resolved. The result could be devastating injuries or loss of life.

The attorneys of Wayne Wright know just how difficult it is to lose a loved one, particularly when it is due to a medical mistake. Losing a husband, wife, or other essential member of the family can not only cause anguish and distress, it can take a serious financial toll. You may be able to receive financial compensation for the hardship that results from your loved one’s passing, as well as those that might happen in the future. Contact us today to schedule your consultation by calling 800.237.3334 or complete our online form and speak with a legal professional about your situation, and find out how we may be able to help you get the justice you and your family deserve.

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