Saturday, July 28, 2007

Medication Safety Report one Year Later

A year has past that the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies reported that “Medication errors are among the most common medical errors, harming at least 1.5 million people every year”. On July 20th, 2006 the report read that extra medical costs of treating drug-related injuries occurring in hospitals alone conservatively amount to $3.5 billion a year, and this estimate does not take into account lost wages and productivity or additional health care costs.

Do you feel safer a year later? Do you have knowledge of what can be done to protect yourself from medication errors at home or in the hospital? The report estimated that on average, there is at least one medication error per hospital patient per day, although error rates vary widely across facilities. Not all errors lead to injury or death, but the number of preventable injuries that do occur is estimated at least 1.5 million each year.

The report provided consumers with information to become more interactive in their own care such as asking questions about how to take medications properly and what to do if side effects occur. This is not always possible if a patient is sick or injured. But this is obviously important enough for consumers to have an advocate available to help with this life-saving information.

Also included are actions consumers should take, such as requesting that your providers give you a printed record of the drugs you have been prescribed. Patients should maintain an up-to-date list of all medications you use -- including over-the-counter products, herbals and dietary supplements -- and share it with all your health care providers and the pharmacist. This list should also note the reason you take each product and drug or food allergies you may have.

If patients are too sick to do this on their own, PULSE of New York, a grassroots patient safety advocacy organization encourages family members to help each other. Other tips for patient safety can be found at

Our government spent hundreds of thousands of your tax dollars on this study, won’t you expect them to at least share this information with you?

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