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ICU transfers may result in medication errors

When a medical patient in Maryland receives the wrong type or dosage of medication, the patient's treating physicians and medical staff, as well as the hospital itself, may be liable for medical malpractice. A study led by a clinical pharmacy specialist at Christiana Care Health System found that 45.7 percent of patients who were transferred from the intensive care unit to a non-ICU experienced a medication error. Many errors were connected to anti-infectives, hematologic agents and intravenous fluids, electrolytes or diuretics.

According to the specialist, 28 percent of errors involved a continuation of medication with an ICU-only indication, making this the most common error. An indication with no pharmacotherapy and pharmacotherapy with indication were also common errors. The study also showed that the number of medication orders and the need for renal replacement therapy were two of the main factors that affected medication errors.

Fortunately, the study showed that a majority of the errors reached the patient, but did not cause them harm. However, there is still significant cause for concern. The authors of the study reported that daily patient care rounds and discontinuing orders and re-writing them when the patient is transferred from the ICU are some ways to avoid medication errors in the future.

Patients who have suffered harm as a result of a medication error may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the parties responsible for the error. While nothing can erase the physical and emotional harm you may be experiencing, a successful lawsuit could provide much needed financial support for you and your family during this difficult time.

Source: MD Mag, "Medication Errors Occur in Nearly Half of ICU Transfers," Matt Hoffman, March 16, 2018

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