Drug Safety Alert!

Over 770,000 people are injured or die each year in hospitals from adverse drug events (ADEs) which may cost up to $5.6 million each year per hospital, depending on hospital size. This estimate does not include ADEs causing admissions, malpractice and litigation costs, or the costs of injuries to patients. National hospital expenses to treat patients who suffer ADEs during hospitalization are estimated at between $1.56 and $5.6 billion annually.

The tragedy is that most of these deaths are preventable. Medication errors occur at any point in the medication administration process—during ordering, transcription (the process of manually transferring the physician order onto medication sheets), dispensing, and administering medications. However, the majority of errors occur during the ordering and administration stages and these are largely preventable if hospitals incorporated electronic prescription filing (e-filing). IT’S  THE HANDWRITTEN PRESCRIPTIONS THAT’S THE PROBLEM!

Computerized systems would alert providers to adverse drug-drug interactions, that doctors may not be familiar with, that could be life-threatening. Unfortunately, most hospitals do not have such computer systems.

To stay safe in the hospital, it may be wise to check before being admitted to see if your hospital has e-filing. Also, remember, e-filing is only as good as the information that is put into the computer. If you don’t tell the doctor what meds you’re taking, no system in the world will help you stay safe from adverse drug reactions.

Additionally, if you’re taking drugs prescribed from multiple doctors who are not linked electronically, you are at increased risk for injury or death. Be sure that each physician knows all the meds you’re taking and whether he has a computer system to log them into. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had clients who were taking multiple medications for the same disorder prescribed by several specialists, when one would do the trick. More isn’t better! This is dangerous!

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