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Patient Medication Errors Doubled Over 13 Years

By John Commins  
   July 10, 2017

The medication categories most frequently associated with serious outcomes were cardiovascular drugs (21%), analgesics (12%), and hormones/hormone antagonists (11%). Most analgesic exposures were related to products containing acetaminophen (44%) or opioids (34%), and nearly two-thirds of hormone/hormone antagonist exposures were associated with insulin. Cardiovascular and analgesic medications combined accounted for 66% of all fatalities in this study.

Among children younger than six years, the rate of medication errors increased early in the study and then decreased after 2005, which was associated with a decrease in the use of cough and cold medicines attributable to the Food and Drug Administration’s 2007 warning against giving these drugs to children.

“Managing medications is an important skill for everyone, but parents and caregivers have the additional responsibility of managing others’ medications,” said study lead author Nichole Hodges, a researcher at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s.

“When a child needs medication, one of the best things to do is keep a written log of the day and time each medication is given to ensure the child stays on schedule and does not get extra doses.”

Data for the study were obtained from the National Poison Data System, which is maintained by the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


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