According to a new study conducted by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, patients are usually the last to know when a medication error is made in a hospital. While many mistakes do not cause harm to patients, personnel still tend to delay telling patients about these types of errors. The study also found that the most serious medication errors tend to occur in intensive care units where families are less likely to be told about problems than in other areas of the hospital.
The study looked at voluntarily reported information from 537 hospitals covering 840,000 incidents between the years 1999 and 2005. About 98 percent of these errors resulted in no harm to the patients, but those that did were most likely to occur in ICU. About 110 of these errors led to patient deaths, 18 of which occurred in ICUs.
According to the study, only one-third of hospital staff was informed immediately if a medication error occurred, and only 2 percent of families and patients were told in a timely manner. Researchers found the most surprising result of the study to be the lack of disclosure to staff and patients or families.
A medical malpractice lawyer can review cases in which medications were given incorrectly to determine if there has been harm to the patient. If so, the patient or the family may be entitled to compensation for the medication error and the injuries that resulted from it. A medical malpractice attorney can represent the patient or family in an action against the responsible parties to collect these damages.
Source: Counsel & Heal, "Errors in treatment rarely admitted to patients," Jan. 15, 2013