Medication errors

Occur at about 5 per 100 medication orders.

Approximately 1.3 million people are injured annually in the United States following as a result of medication errors.


Each year in the U.S. alone, 7,000 to 9,000 people die as a result of a medication error, costing more than $40 billion in associated health care costs.

Defined by the NationaL Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention as “any 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…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.”

Medication errors can occur anywhere within the system of drug prescribing, distribution, and administration, and may be due to a mistake by a pharmacist, physician, nurse, or other medical personnel.

Fatal medication errors most commonly involve medications related to administration of an improper dose of medicine, accounting for 41% of fatal medication errors, while administering the wrong drug and using the wrong route of administration each accounted for 16% of the errors.

Almost half of the fatal medication errors occur in people over the age of 60.

Older people are at greatest risk for medication errors because they often take multiple kmedications.

Only 7 in 100 medication errors have significant potential for harm, and 1 in 100 result in injury.

Missed medication doses in hospitalized patients correlates with number of daily doses.

Transition between emergency department and in-patient status is a potential source of delayed medication dosing.

Implicated 100,000 deaths annually (Ebbesen J).

Such errors include adverse drug reactions related to inappropriately prescribed or administered agents.

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