The most common medications that are subject to error in the emergency room include:
The errors that were most often associated with these medications were:
Wrong dose (either too much or too little)
Medications not given
Incorrect administration technique (i.e. orally instead of intravenously)
Pharmacists Help Right ER Wrongs
When pharmacists and doctors work closely together, patients are much less likely to be given the wrong medication. Pharmacists in the emergency department double check the doctors' drug requests, often making corrections. Interventions performed by pharmacists were most commonly concerned with correcting dosages and offering alternative drug suggestions. Amy Ernst, MD is a professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and the lead author of the study. She witnessed, first-hand, the difference a good doctor/pharmacist relationship can make.
"For example, we [physicians] use so many antibiotics, and the pharmacist will come up and say, ‘That's not the best choice for that particular infection,' and suggest something better."
Others agree. Daniel P.Hays, a clinical pharmacist, notes that when physicians and pharmacists work together in these emergency situations, the patients benefit.
"Things happen so quickly, you don't have time to debate the literature," Hays said. "You just have to trust that what the individual beside you says is right."
This solid working relationship appears to be the key to preventing medication errors in both the emergency department and the intensive care unit (ICU). During the above-mentioned study, 55 patients in the ICU were affected by medication errors. Of these, only four occurred when pharmacists were on-site. Furthermore, the study documented a nearly 28% reduction in medication errors when pharmacists and doctors worked together.
The Norfolk, VA medical malpractice attorneys of Tavss Fletcher hope that this study will make a real impact on reducing the number of emergency room errors. Our staff believes that raising awareness about this important issue could ultimately save lives. If you believe you may have been the victim of a Norfolk medication error, call 757.625.1214 today for your free consultation.