Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

1.5 million harmed annually by preventable drug errors

Written By: Jason Shafrin - Jul• 25•06

MedPage Today reports that the National Academy’s Institute of Medicine (IOM) claims that preventable drug errors are widespread in the U.S.  It is estimated that 1.5 million American are harmed each year from preventable drug errors; the treatment of these cases adds $3.5 billion of yearly cost.  How can we fix this problem?  The authors suggest the following:

“…consumers should maintain careful records of their medications, providers should review a patient’s list of medications at each encounter and at times of transition between care settings (for example, hospital to outpatient care), and the federal government should seek ways to improve the quality of pharmacy leaflets and medication-related information on the Internet for consumers.”

On May 10th this site ran a post on this issue and I suggested that information technology could improve the error rate.  The authors of the article agree with me, but are skeptical of the progress which has been made:

“But as Daniel R. Longo, Sc.D., and colleagues, of the University of Missouri-Columbia reported last December in the Journal of the American Medical Association, while 74% of hospitals surveyed have implemented a written patient safety plan, nearly 9% have no such plan.

Furthermore, while nearly all hospitals have systems in place to reduce medication errors, only 34% of hospitals reported full implementation of computerized physician-order entry systems for medications, Dr. Longo and colleagues said.”

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