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Medication errors: 1977 to 1988. Experience in medical malpractice claims.

Published Article
New Jersey medicine : the journal of the Medical Society of New Jersey
Publication Date
PMID: 2300277


MIIENJ has paid $30,144,636 in indemnity from 1977 through 1988 for medical malpractice suits arising from medication errors. A review of these files revealed that patients incurred death and serious morbidity, and that several specific behavior errors accounted for the majority of patient injury. Among the damages that occurred during that time period were 88 deaths, 15 patients with profound brain damage, 15 patients who alleged that they had become addicted to medications prescribed for pain, 10 patients who required amputations of limbs, and 12 patients who suffered some degree of hearing loss or decreased visual acuity. The predominant categories where insureds incurred difficulty were in disregarding patient allergies to specific drugs (acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin), penicillin and its derivatives); prescribing drugs without consideration of the patient's medical history; failing to monitor therapy with anticoagulants, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, digitalis derivatives, theophylline, and aminoglycoside antibiotics; antibiotic therapy; and errors in the writing of prescriptions. In order to reduce the number of patient injuries and accompanying medical malpractice suits from medication errors, the following suggestions are offered: 1. Heed the patient's warning regarding drug allergies and prescribe a substitute drug, especially if the drug is aspirin or penicillin (and derivatives) or if the patient gives a history of having asthma. If the patient gives a history of aspirin sensitivity, make certain the drug you are prescribing does not contain aspirin as one of its components. Often physicians stated that they were not aware that aspirin was contained in the drug they prescribed for patients with a documented allergy to aspirin.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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