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Blood thinners cause medication errors in Kentucky

Blood thinners reduce stroke and heart attack risks by preventing blood clots from developing in the veins and arteries. However, when used incorrectly, blood thinners can hurt patients more than they help. Health care experts, endorsed by the Anticoagulation Forum, which works on improving anticoagulation care, made new guidelines regarding the effective and safe use of anticoagulants.

The new guidelines are in response to the approximately seven percent of medical errors caused by the improper dosing of blood thinners. A blood thinner medication error is usually due to a lack of knowledge about a patient's medical condition or current medication. To reduce the percentage of errors, the panel recommended various safeguards such as bar code scanning, examining a patient's dosage range and physician order entry. Also, another way to reduce this medical error is to make sure that the hospital's electronic medical records have standardized dosing protocols available.

Another step to take is using an anticoagulation management system to track patients receiving the anticoagulation therapy. If the system isn't available, a hospital could have a pharmacist on patient rounds. A pharmacist on staff could reduce the percent of blood thinner medication errors.

There are two types of blood thinners given to patients. An antiplatelet blood thinner prevents blood cells, or platelets, from grouping together so that they won't clot. Anticoagulants work to prolong the time it takes for blood clots to form. Regardless of which blood thinner was given to a patient, it is considered medical malpractice when given in an incorrect dose, causing injury or death. Under medical malpractice law, individuals have a right to pursue a lawsuit against the hospital and/ or health professional who gave the incorrect dosage.

Source: Medical News Today, "Blood Thinners Cause 7 Percent Of Medication Errors", Joseph Nordqvist, May 22, 2013

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