What is the Average Cost of a Medication Error?

While our medical system is designed to help people in a variety of situations, there are unfortunate times when an error is made. Currently, medication errors cost between 17 and 29 billion dollars each year. Many of these errors could have been avoided with a bit more attention and following of protocol. Many Americans are failing to get the best medical care that could potentially be provided to them. One small error can mean life or death. Sometimes, people end up having to stay in the hospital for a number of extra days while a medication error gets rectified. Quality performance can help decrease these numbers.

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What Constitutes A Medication Error?

A preventable event that occurs because of inappropriate medication being given to a patient, under the supervision of a medical professional is considered to be a medication error. These errors can occur:

  • during surgery
  • during recovery
  • during emergency care
  • as part of a long-term care plan, etc.

Sometimes the error isn’t necessarily because of the neglect of doctor or nurse. Many times, there can be a labeling error and the medical professional administered the medication under the false information they have been provided. An error can occur at a pharmacy level where the compounding of the medication takes place. When it comes to a lawsuit, there are many people who can be at fault.

What An Error Can Cost

Each year, about 100,000 people die in a hospital setting because of a secondary infection they contracted while seeking medical care for another reason. The number of errors related to medication is much lower. However, these incidents can be a real setback for a patient and sometimes cause permanent issues moving forward. The costs of these errors are astronomical when it comes to money. There is also the cost of patient care that needs to be taken into consideration as well. When a patient has to remain in the hospital because of an error that had nothing to do with them, the hospital doesn’t waive the fees the patient will be charged. They are still responsible for the extra care and assistance that they will need.

The Most Common Errors

There are some errors that occur more frequently than others. The most common issue is administering the wrong dosage of medication. In some instances, the administered dose may cost the patient their life. Sometimes, the side effects that occur from too high or too low of a dose can be noticed in time and the problem can be fixed before a patient’s life is at risk.

It is disappointing but true that our healthcare system is lacking when it comes to patient care and protocol. Many medication errors could easily be avoided. They could save patients the grief of finding out that something has gone wrong or something wasn’t administered properly. Researchers continue to pay close attention to the number of medical errors that occur in the United States.

These errors have to be reported at the very least. Many times, lawsuits will occur as well and that occurs on a patient level. Many attorneys practice medical malpractice to get patients and their families the justice they deserve after an error has occurred.

Source: National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention