Hospital Medication Mistakes are Rampant

Laura Woods | August 26th, 2015

IV

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has received approximately 30,000 reports of medication errors since 1992. However, these reports are voluntary, so the number of medication errors that actually take place are likely much higher. Medication errors happen across the board, to all types of patients receiving many different types of medicine.

The Institute for Safe Medicine Practices notes the difficulty of preventing prescription errors, as there are so many different ways medical professionals can fall short in this area. For example, a hospital pharmacist reported two cases of accidental IV administration of oral liquid products. Many different events can lead to this issue, such as preparing oral liquid products in parenteral syringes, unlabeled syringes and a break of mental concentration while preparing medication.

Inadvertently administering an IV to patients can lead to serious health problems, considering the risk of emboli, sepsis and diffuse intravascular coagulation when an unsterile solution with particulates is injected into the body. Specifically, the patients impacted by these errors required a longer hospital stay, but neither one suffered permanent damage.

Preventing drug distribution errors

It isn’t possible to completely eliminate the chance of drug distribution errors and hospital negligence, but many precautions can be taken to lower the likelihood. Some of these include:

  • Reducing the Number of Distractions: A busy healthcare environment will never be distraction-free, but steps can be taken to minimize interruptions that can cause serious harm. Identify common distractions and create a plan to work past them, so the patient doesn’t suffer.
  • Reassessing the Situation: If even the slightest thing seems out of sorts, medical professionals should take a minute to reassess the situation. It’s advisable to invite a second party in to examine the patient, as another set of eyes can be telling.
  • Emphasizing the Importance of Proper Labeling: Staff should be re-informed on the purpose of labeling syringes properly, as failing to do so can result in a patient receiving medication that wasn’t meant for them, which can be deadly.
  • Administering Immediately After Scanning: After patient identification and medication or product barcodes have been scanned in, there should be no delay in administration.
  • Making Labels Clear: Pharmacy labels should be clear and easy to read to avoid misinterpretation that can lead to a distribution error.
  • Using Oral Syringes: Oral syringes should be available where patient medications are prepared and administered, even if they’re not often used. Make sure clinicians understand the importance of administering medication specifically designed for oral syringe products.

NY hospital medication mistakes

When you’re under the care of a medical professional, you’re putting your health and safety in their hands. However, sometimes they make errors when dispensing medication that can be costly. If you or a loved one has been the victim of medication mistakes, legal recourse is available. You may be eligible for compensation for the damages you incurred through filing a hospital malpractice lawsuit.

At The Sanders Firm, we want to help you fight back, as you’ve already suffered enough. Our experienced legal team is committed to helping you get the compensation you’re entitled to, so you can move on with your life. For more than 45 years, we’ve been helping blameless victims like you in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Long Island and throughout New York. Call 1.800.FAIR.PLAY today to schedule a free consultation with a veteran New York medical malpractice attorney at our firm.


  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Strategies to Reduce Medication Errors: Working to Improve Medication Safety http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm143553.htm

  2. Institute for Safe Medicine Practices, A Successful ENFit Launch Still Won’t Stop All Incidents Of Oral Medications Given Intravenously http://www.ismp.org/newsletters/acutecare/showarticle.aspx?id=115