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The tragic consequences of medication errors

| Nov 18, 2020 | Firm News

The standard method for keeping track of patient medical histories in hospitals in Queens and across the country is through electronic health records (EHRs). EHRs keep track of not only a patient’s family history, surgeries, and vaccinations, but also current medications and allergies to certain drugs, to avoid potential problems in prescribing medication.

In a recent study of the performance of EHRs over the past decade, researchers found that EHR systems failed to detect a third of all potentially harmful drug interactions. This level of oversight can lead to malpractice claims from the families of those injured or killed essentially by a software failure.

The rise of EHRs

EHRs became prevalent in the 21st century after an Institute of Medicine study discovered that medication problems were the most common cause of injury and death in patients. Computerized systems should alert a medical practitioner of any allergies, incorrect dosages or adverse drug interactions before medication is prescribed. However, EHR safety performance went down when customized to fit a hospital’s software.

Although federal regulators inspect EHR systems to factory specifications, each hospital adapts them to their own software systems. So, an EHR medication interaction warning in one hospital system might not activate in another, due to the alterations in the system after it has been installed.

Medication errors and malpractice

Medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer. And medication errors, particularly from adverse drug interactions, account for over 100,000 emergency room hospitalizations of seniors. Culpability can lie with the doctor or pharmacist, or in the improper administering of drugs by nurses.

Medical malpractice lawsuits, in particular for medication error, can be challenging to prove. Not only is it important to know the statute of limitations, but also if your case might have better success settling out of court. Many times, a case faces more complex challenges when a large consolidated health group is protecting the doctor accused of malpractice.

When pursuing a malpractice claim in New York, it is important to consider the help of an experienced medical malpractice attorney who will have medical professionals on staff, as well as access to leading experts in the field to assess the merits of your case.

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