How the World Health Organization Deals with Medication Errors

Posted By Regan Zambri Long, PLLC || 9-May-2017

Medication errors happen probably more often than you think. In fact, according to the Food and Drug Administration, medication errors kill one person per day in the United States and injure more than 1.3 million people each year.

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) began a new initiative to change this statistic for the better. According to a statement released March 29th, the WHO will take steps to reduce medication-associated harm worldwide by 50% over the next five years.

"The Challenge calls on countries to take early priority action to address these key factors," the statement says, "including medicines with a high risk of harm if used improperly; patients who take multiple medications for different diseases and conditions; and patients going through transitions of care, in order to reduce medication errors and harm to patients."

One reason why medication errors are so common is that they can occur at so many points of contact. For instance:

  • A computer system error delivers the wrong drug to the wrong patient.
  • A pharmacy miscue causes inaccurate dosing of a blood clotting medicine.
  • A doctor fails to read a patient’s chart carefully and then prescribes a dangerously contraindicated experimental drug therapy.

The WHO wants to improve each stage of the medication process, including prescribing, dispensing, administering, monitoring and use.

While this initiative is highly encouraging, ultimately we must all take personal responsibility for our own safety. Here are some tips to protect against medication errors:

  • Always double-check your prescription with your doctor. Repeat the recommended dosage back to him or her to make sure it is correct.
  • Double-check your prescription at the pharmacy. Compare the dosage instructions and the prescription strength with the prescription itself. Tell the pharmacist if you see any irregularities.
  • If you or a loved one receives professional care, make sure the nurse is aware of the proper dosage. Remember that anyone who handles the medication can make a mistake.
  • Talk to your doctor immediately if you experience any negative reactions or side effects.

To learn more about preventing medication errors, please check out this post.

Our D.C. medical malpractice attorneys can provide important insight and assistance in the event of medication-related harm. Call us today for a free consultation.

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