Medical Errors

Essay by chris6878University, Master'sA-, February 2008

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Medical errors occur with such frequency and regularity that most states require periodic, ongoing medical education for all health care providers as part of their licensing requirement. Hundreds of thousands of patients are victims of medical errors each year and many of them suffer from permanent disabilities as a result, some even die. In its report, To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) estimates that 44,000 to 98,000 Americans die each year not from the medical conditions they checked in with, but from preventable medical errors (Nordenberg, 2000).

A medical error, under the report's definition, could mean a health-care provider chose an inappropriate method of care or it could mean the health provider chose the right course of care but carried it out incorrectly. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) estimates that fully half of adverse reactions to medicines are the result of medical errors (Nordenberg, 2000).

The statistics in the IOM report, which were based on two large studies, suggest that medical errors are the eighth leading cause of death among Americans (Nordenberg).

"A medication error is any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient, or consumer. Such events may be related to professional practice, health care products, procedures, and systems, including prescribing; order communication; product labeling, packaging, and nomenclature; compounding; dispensing; distribution; administration; education; monitoring; and use (NCC MERP, 2007)."Even the seemingly simple process of giving a patient medicine--the right drug, in the right dose, to the right patient, at the right time--is, in reality, teeming with opportunities for error. The IOM estimates that preventable medication errors result in more than 7,000 deaths each year in hospitals alone, and tens...