New Medication Error Alert System

Intravenous.jpgApproximately 1.3 million people in the country, including thousands in Indiana, are injured every year from medication errors. Of these:

* 41 percent of deaths were linked to improper dosage
* 16 percent involved distribution of the wrong medicine * another 16 percent was attributed to the wrong route of medication administration

Now, a new national alert program is aiming to minimize the frequency of such medication errors.

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) have developed the National Alert Network for Serious Medication Errors. Actor Dennis Quaid recently announced the launch of the alert program. Quaid has some personal experience with the trauma that patients and families go through when they are injured by these preventable errors. In 2007, his twin boys were administered an excessive dose of the drug heparin. The event occurred at the Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles.

Fortunately, Quaid’s twins survived the accident, but the actor has since added his voice to those of Indiana medical malpractice lawyers and medical safety experts around the country, against these preventable errors.

According to ASHP representatives, the National Alert System allows sharing of information between physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other health care professionals. The system will rely on voluntary reports of medication errors as well as news reports to instantly transmit email alerts to all members of the ASHP’s network. The network already includes nearly 35,000 healthcare professionals. The alert will include the complete description of the error that has occurred, as well as recommendations to prevent the error room from occurring again. Doctors and nurses can make use of this information to fine-tune their own prescription, delivery and monitoring processes to make sure there is no repetition of the error at their facility. All alerts will be archived and posted on the ASHP website.

Medication errors are some of the most preventable of all hospital errors. These typically pass through a chain that can begin with the pharmaceutical company that manufactured the drug, and end with the patient. The error can be prevented anywhere along the chain.

As Indiana medical malpractice attorneys, we believe this alert system will help those in the middle of the chain, like doctors, nurses and pharmacists, who are frequently linked to these errors. With this alert system, they can easily identify an error and take steps to prevent them from occurring in their facility.