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How are IV medication errors commonly occurring?

Medication errors can take many forms. From a dosage mistake to administering an incorrect drug, California patients are subject to medication errors all too often. Sometimes medication errors arise when hospital staff administers intravenous, or IV, medications. According to a study performed by BMJ Quality & Safety, these IV medication mishaps are often due to administration errors, not problems of technology, as some experts had believed was the primary cause.

To conduct the study, researchers reviewed 1,164 medication administrations at numerous hospitals, all of which used smart pumps for IV medication infusions, and found that 60 percent of these infusions had at least one error. According to data from this multihospital study, of the IV medication infusions reviewed, the majority of the errors stemmed from failure to follow hospital policies. Roughly 65 percent of the mistakes were due to violations related to IV labeling and tubing change policies. Additionally, there were more serious errors as well, one of the most common of which was the infusion of medication at the wrong rate.

The researchers determined that overall the errors were not directly connected to the use of smart pumps, but rather were caused by clinical error. Therefore, smart pumps are not capable of preventing all IV medication errors. There is evidence that use of smart pumps to administer IV medication has improved medication dosing for patients via the use of dose error reduction systems and drug libraries. Nonetheless, errors are still happening at an alarming rate, and these medical mistakes can pose the risk of serious harm to patients.

If you or a loved one has received the wrong medication or an improper dosage of medication intravenously, you may have a cause of action. An attorney may be able to offer guidance regarding your legal options and how they may lead to the recovery of compensation for your damages.

Source: Infection Control Today, "Majority of IV Medication Errors Linked to Clinical Practice, Not Technology," accessed April 1, 2016

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