Top 5 Most Common Medication Errors

By Ben Gobel on February 16, 2023

Multiple Packs Of Pills Laying On The Table

When we put our lives into the hands of our doctors and healthcare providers, we give them our absolute trust. Sadly, many healthcare treatments can worsen your medical condition because of dangerous mistakes. Erroneous decision-making and rampant neglect have made medical errors one of the top reasons that victims die from personal injury.

Healthcare providers need to be attentive before administering medications to reduce the risk of medication errors. Understanding common medication errors can help you work with your doctor to prevent mistakes and keep you safe.

After you’ve been harmed by a negligent doctor, you can seek compensation with a help of an attorney. A medication error attorney will look out for your best interests and protect your rights after you’ve experienced adverse drug reactions. For more information about your medication error case, reach out to Ogg, Murphy, & Perkosky today for a free consultation.

5 Most Common Medication Errors

Patients should always make sure to read labels carefully and ask questions if they don’t understand something about their prescribed medications. Healthcare providers should double-check orders before giving medications and use processes such as barcode scanning technology to reduce risk. Understanding these errors is key to reducing them and improving patient safety to prevent medication errors and toxic drug interactions. These are the five most common types of medication errors:

Taking The Wrong Medication Or Receiving The Wrong Dosage

This is one of the most common medication errors and occurs when a patient takes the wrong drug or an incorrect dosage of their prescribed medication. An adverse drug event can be caused by misreading labels, taking medications at the wrong time, or confusion between similar-looking medications. An example of this type of error would be a patient mistakenly taking an antibiotic instead of their heart medication.

Omitting Dosages

Missing doses can lead to treatment failure, an adverse drug reaction, and even serious health consequences for some patients who need to take their medications regularly to stay healthy. Common causes of adverse drug events include forgetting to take medications or having difficulty affording prescriptions. For example, elderly patients who are on multiple medications may sometimes forget to take all of them.

Wrong Route Of Administration

These types of adverse drug events occur when a patient takes a medication incorrectly, such as ingesting it instead of applying it topically or vice versa. Toxic drug interactions can be caused by a lack of understanding about the medication and the proper way to take it. A patient experiencing this, for example, could end up using eye drops instead of ear drops.


Wrong Patient

A healthcare system error such as this can happen when a healthcare provider gives the wrong medication or dose to the wrong patient. This can be due to confusion between two patients with similar names or misreading labels on medications. For example, giving a patient with high blood pressure medication that was intended for someone else.

Look-Alike Drugs

Confusion between products that have similar names or appearances is another common cause of medication errors. These are known as “Look-Alike Sound-Alike” drugs, and they can lead to mistakes if not handled carefully. Pharmacists play an important role in preventing medication errors by providing education and guidance to patients and healthcare providers. This can happen to a patient, for example, when taking an antacid instead of their asthma medication.

Error Prevention And Safety Measures

To reduce medication errors, it’s important to be aware of common errors and take steps to prevent them. Healthcare providers should always double-check orders before giving medications, use processes such as barcode scanning technology when available, provide medication error reporting, and keep up with best practices. They can reduce medication errors and enhance patient safety by paying close attention when prescribing, dispensing, and administering medications. Patients should also read labels carefully and ask questions if they don’t understand something about their prescribed medications.

Additionally, there are a number of software programs available to help healthcare providers track patient medications more effectively. These can reduce errors caused by omissions or incorrect doses by providing alerts that remind healthcare staff to review medications regularly. Overall, understanding the most common types of medication errors can go a long way to improving patient safety.

By following the above guidelines, healthcare organizations can make sure their patients receive safe and effective care. This can help reduce the number of medication errors and improve patient satisfaction with their healthcare experience. Understanding common medication errors can provide valuable insight for healthcare providers looking to develop strategies for preventing them in the future. By taking steps to prevent mistakes now, organizations can ensure a safer environment for patients and staff members going forward.

A Person Pouring Pills From A Pill Bottle In Hand

The Do’s And Don’ts Of Error Prevention

Medication errors can all have serious consequences if not properly managed. Some recommended do’s and don’ts include the following:

Always Double-Check

Double-check orders before giving medications, and use processes such as barcode scanning when available.

Re-Read Your Labels

Read labels carefully and ask questions if you don’t understand something about your prescribed medication.

Download Phone Apps

Use software programs to help healthcare providers track patient medications more effectively.

Don’t Borrow Or Lend Medication

Don’t take someone else’s medication or give yours to another person.

Follow Dosage Instructions

Don’t take the wrong dose of a medication or omit doses altogether.

Pay Attention To Dosage Directions

Don’t use a medication in the wrong way, such as ingesting it instead of applying it topically.

Pay Attention To Spelling

Don’t confuse look-alike or sound-alike drugs with each other.

Safety Steps For Doctors And Healthcare Practitioners

Doctors and other healthcare practitioners should also take steps to reduce the risk of medication errors. These include:

  • Developing and implementing systems that ensure accuracy in prescribing, dispensing, and administering medications.
  • Utilizing software programs to help track patient medications more effectively.
  • Educating patients on the proper use of their medications, including reading labels carefully and understanding potential side effects.
  • Staying up to date with best practices for medication administration, such as double-checking orders before giving medication or using barcode scanning technology when available.
  • Regularly reviewing patient medical records for any possible signs of adverse reactions or incorrect doses and timing medication administration correctly.
A Doctor Prescribing Medication To His Patient

What Happens After I File A Settlement Claim Against A Healthcare Provider?

If you believe a healthcare provider is responsible for a medication error, you may be able to file a medical malpractice claim against them. When filing such a claim, you may need to show that the provider was negligent and that this negligence caused injury or harm. Your lawyer will review your case and advise you on the best course of action. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help guide you through the various steps involved. These steps include the following:

Filing A Complaint

Your attorney will begin by filing a formal complaint against the provider. This is done by completing the appropriate paperwork, which is then submitted to the responsible state medical board.

Collecting Evidence

Next, your lawyer will also start the process of gathering evidence and taking witness statements that can be used to support your claim. Evidence includes medical records, test results, and other relevant documents.

Working With Medical Experts

Your attorney may recruit the help of a medical expert who can review your case and provide an opinion on whether or not negligence occurred.

The Other Party Investigates

Once your claim is filed, it will be assessed by the healthcare provider’s insurance company or the defendant. If there is enough evidence to prove that negligence occurred, then both sides may enter into settlement negotiations. A settlement agreement is typically reached after all of the relevant facts have been reviewed and discussed.

Negotiation Process

The most important part is when your attorney begins negotiating a settlement with the healthcare provider or their insurance company. This typically involves an in-depth review of all documentation and legal arguments on both sides.  Your attorney will help you assess the strength of your case and determine an appropriate amount to pursue in a settlement.

Filing a Lawsuit

If negotiations fail, your attorney will advise you to file a lawsuit against the responsible party. Attorneys guide you through the litigation process, helping you prepare a compelling argument and collecting evidence to support your case.

Representation In Court

If the pre-trial mediation results in no agreement, your attorney will represent you in court. Your attorney will be with you throughout the entire legal process and can provide sound advice every step of the way.

Collect Medical Malpractice Damages

If you are not at fault, have solid evidence, and win your case, you can begin collecting any damages awarded as part of a trial or settlement agreement. Your attorney will work hard to ensure that the responsible party is held accountable for their actions.

Elderly Couple Reading Medication Usage Instruction

Types Of Damages You Can Claim For Medical Error Negligence

When filing a claim for medical error negligence, you may be able to seek compensation for damages. This includes both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages, such as lost wages or medical bills, can be calculated in monetary terms. Non-economic damages are more subjective and include pain and suffering or emotional distress.

Pain And Suffering

If you suffered physical or emotional pain and suffering due to a medical error, you may be able to receive compensation. This includes the cost of any mental health care services, such as therapy or counseling, that you require. For example, you might have depression, anxiety, PTSD, grief, and other negative emotions.

Medical Bills

You can also receive compensation for any medical expenses related to the injury or illness caused by the medical error. This includes hospital bills, medications, and any other costs associated with your treatment.

Lost Wages

If your injury or illness caused you to miss work, you may be able to seek compensation for lost wages. This includes any money you would have earned if you had not been absent from work and any future wages you may lose because of the medical error.

Loss Of Earning Capacity

In some cases, a medical error can cause permanent disability or impairment. If this is the case, you may be able to receive compensation for the loss of earning capacity caused by the medical mistake.

Funeral And Burial Costs

In the event of a wrongful death, you may also be able to receive compensation for funeral bills. These costs can add up quickly and be extremely difficult to pay without help.

Loss Of Companionship

If you have suffered an unexpected loss due to a medical error, such as the death of a loved one, you may be able to claim compensation for your loss of companionship. This is not always available in medical error negligence claims, but it may be worth discussing with your attorney.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are intended as a punishment for particularly egregious acts of negligence. These damages are only awarded in rare cases and must be sought through the court. Your attorney will help you understand if punitive damages are available in your case.

An Attorney Can Help With Your Medical Malpractice Case

If you have been injured due to a medical error, your attorney will do their best to prove that the doctor or healthcare provider was at fault for the mistake. To do this, your medical malpractice lawyer will need to prove that the doctor acted in a negligent manner and failed to provide reasonable care. This may involve looking into the doctor’s training and experience, as well as the standard of care expected in such a situation.

Your attorney will also need to prove that the doctor owed you a duty of care, breached this duty, that the medical error directly caused your injury or illness, and you suffered damages because of their actions. If you were already ill or injured before the mistake occurred, then it may be more difficult to hold the doctor liable for negligence.

Speak to attorneys to learn more about your medical malpractice case. Don’t worry about paying us upfront, you only pay if we win your case. Call Ogg, Murphy, & Perkosky today for a free consultation.