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Where might Californians encounter medication errors?

Medication errors occur in many forms and often have tragic results for California patients. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, medication errors injure approximately 1.3 million people every year and cause at least one fatality every day.

Medication errors are by definition preventable events. Nonetheless, they happen all too often due to factors that are beyond a patient's control. Moreover, the results of a prescription medication error can be catastrophic and even fatal. They can happen when a medication is under the control of a patient, such as when improper or incomplete instructions are given to a patient, or under the control of a health care professional when they administer the wrong medicine or improper dose.

Errors can potentially occur at many different points. Mistakes may be made by a negligent pharmacist in dispensing or distributing a medication or by a negligent physician in prescribing, administering or monitoring a medication. Even something as seemingly simple as poor handwriting can lead to a major medical event if a pharmacist then fails to read a doctor's handwriting properly.

Serious injuries can result when medical staff fails to communicate properly prior to the administration of a medication or has poor techniques that are counter to safe medication use. Additionally, often medications have ambiguous product names or similar packaging, which can lead to medical mistakes. Medical abbreviations or directions for use may also be confusing, thus leading to dosage mistakes and other errors.

If you or a loved one has suffered from a medication error due to the negligence of a physician, pharmacist or drug company, you may have a cause of action. A medical malpractice suit not only hold the negligent party or parties responsible for their wrongdoings but also helps the harmed patient recover compensation for their damages and losses.

Source: FDA, "Medication Error Reports," accessed June 3, 2016

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