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Medication errors kill 7,000 patients each year in the U.S.

Mistakes happen, but not every mistake should happen. That is why we have procedures. From courts to hospitals, procedures are used to limit some of the more common mistakes that can happen when left to our own devices. In the case of medicine, procedures are particularly important. This is the case not because physicians are more likely to err than other human beings, but because the consequences are so much more serious.

When hospital negligence occurs, it is often the result of failures in supervision resulting from unenforced or improper procedures. One example of this is medication errors. Medication errors can occur very easily. A simple misplaced decimal can result in catastrophic consequences for a patient. In order to avoid some of these potential hazards, hospitals set up elaborate systems of checks and balances to protect patients.

Unfortunately, even with the elaborate systems of oversights, sometimes failures in supervision occur and, as a result, patients are harmed. In fact, there are approximately one million medication errors each year in the United States. Of these one million medication errors, there are approximately 7,000 deaths annually that are attributed to such medical mistakes. That equates to about one error per day for each hospital patient.

There are a number of competing explanations for the high rate of medication errors and an equal number of proposed solutions. Regardless of the cause, medication errors stemming from hospital negligence that result in patient harm are actionable claims under the law. If a patient is injured because of a medication error, he or she may have a medical malpractice claim. No one should have to pay for someone else's mistakes.

Source: Forbes, "The Shocking Truth About Medication Errors," Leah Binder, Sept. 3, 2013

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