Medication errors resulting in negative outcomes on the rise

Every two minutes, someone in the United States calls Poison Control due to a medication error.
By Amy Wallace   |   July 13, 2017 at 4:15 PM
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July 13 (UPI) -- A new study reveals that medication errors outside of medical facilities resulting in serious medical outcomes is on the rise in the United States.

The study, conducted at the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital examined calls to Poison Control Centers across the country over a 13-year period.

Researchers looked at exposures to medication errors that occurred primarily in the home and resulted in serious medical outcomes.

The most common types of medication error were giving or taking the wrong medication or incorrect dosage and accidentally giving or taking medication twice.

Researchers found one-third of medication errors resulted in admission to the hospital.

"Managing medications is an important skill for everyone, but parents and caregivers have the additional responsibility of managing others' medications," Nichole Hodges, research scientist in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's, said in a press release. "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."

The study, published July 10 in Clinical Toxicology, found a 100 percent increase in the rate of serious medication errors per 100,000 U.S. residents, and the frequency and rates of medication errors increased for all age groups except children under 6 over the study period.

In children under 6, the rate of medication error increased in the beginning of the study but decreased after 2005 when the use of cough and cold medications for that age were no longer recommended.

"Drug manufacturers and pharmacists have a role to play when it comes to reducing medication errors," said Henry Spiller, director of the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children's. "There is room for improvement in product packaging and labeling. Dosing instructions could be made clearer, especially for patients and caregivers with limited literacy or numeracy."

Researchers recommend writing down the time, amount and type of medication given to prevent accidental overdose, use child-resistant packaging and have physicians and pharmacists teach patients and caregivers how to take and administer medication properly.

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