Medication errors injure 1.5 million people and cost billions of dollars annually. Medication errors are among the most common medical errors, harming at least 1.5 million people every year, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. The extra medical costs of treating drug-related injuries occurring in hospitals alone conservatively amount to $3.5 billion per year, and this estimate does not take into account lost wages and productivity or additional health care costs, the report says.
The committee that wrote the report recommended a series of actions for patients, health care organizations, government agencies, and pharmaceutical companies. The recommendations include steps to increase communication and improve interactions between health care professionals and patients, as well as steps patients should take to protect themselves.
The recommendations boil down to ensuring that consumers are fully informed about how to take medications safely and achieve the desired results, and that health care providers have the tools and data necessary to prescribe, dispense, and administer drugs as safely as possible and to monitor for problems. The ultimate goal is to achieve the best care and outcomes for patients each time they take a medication.
Studies indicate that 400,000 preventable drug-related injuries occur each year in hospitals. Another 800,000 occur in long-term care settings, and roughly530,000 occur just among Medicare recipients in outpatient clinics. The committee noted that these are likely underestimates.
There is insufficient data to determine accurately all the costs associated with medication errors. The conservative estimate of 400,000 preventable drug-related injuries in hospitals will result in at least $3.5 billion in extra medical costs this year, the committee calculated. A study of outpatient clinics found that medication-related injuries there resulted in roughly $887 million in extra medical costs in 2000 -- and the study looked only at injuries experienced by Medicare recipients, a subset of clinic visitors. None of these figures take into account lost wages and productivity or other costs.
(Source Preventing Medication Errors) www.nap.edu