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Existing technology in hospitals may decrease prescription errors

Patients in New York often worry about medication errors and what may happen if they are ever a victim. Medication errors can lead to accidental overdose, which can be fatal. What is perhaps most terrifying about this type of medical mistake is that it is on the rise.

According to the non-profit organization AARP, as of 2017, medication errors doubled. Incidents included professionals prescribing the wrong medications or administering the wrong combinations or doses. Patients themselves also sometimes made mistakes when they had multiple medications to keep track of.

Subsequently, 1.3 million people in the U.S. suffer injuries related to medication errors each year. Cardiovascular drugs, including medications for high blood pressure, accounted for one in five instances of medication errors. Meanwhile, errors related to medications used for diabetes increased by more than 300%. Analgesics and cardiovascular medications also accounted for more than two-thirds of situations where the medication error resulted in death.

MarketWatch identifies medication error as the most common mistake hospitals make. Yet, there are tools in place to prevent it. Professionals recommend the use of bar code medication administration systems. In the study referenced, researchers found that 98.7% of hospitals did have BCMA systems connected. This helps medical staff to match patients to their exact medications by scanning a barcode. Yet, in 95% of bedside medication administration, medical staff did not use the BCMA system.

With technology like this at the ready and with lives at stake, it may seem ludicrous not to use it. However, as of yet, hospitals are not required to use them. It is possible that public awareness of the system’s existence and retraining of medical staff may help to change this. In the interim, medication errors may continue to rise exponentially.

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