Approximately eight million Americans experience preventable prescription errors each year. 1.5 million Americans are injured by medication errors.
It is understandable that mistakes can happen considering the process of acquiring medicine. First there is the decision to prescribe medicine. An erroneous decision could be made. Then there is the potential for a mistake to be made when writing the prescription. Dose selection or concentration could be wrong or poor handwriting could mean it is interpreted incorrectly. A patient’s medical history, current health and/or other prescribed medications could interact with a prescription. Inadequate communication between nurses and doctors in hospitals and other personnel can also contribute towards the problem. In short, there’s a lot that can go wrong and it’s easy to see why mistakes happen.
And this is just on the side of the medical professional. Patients, too, often make mistakes in their dosage. They may take the wrong dose or take another dose too soon to the previous one.
The cost of medication errors exceeds $40 billion annually. Most errors are preventable, and the cost isn’t only a financial one. While most of these errors result in no harm or low harm, some do result in severe harm and even death. This can lead to distrust in the healthcare system too.
Most mistakes concerned medications treating heart disease and diabetes. It is thought that the increase in use of these medications is the reason for the increase in medication errors.
Thankfully, there is hope once again. MedAware is an Israeli company that aims to improve healthcare by eliminating prescription errors. Think of it as a “spell check” for prescriptions. MedAware uses patent-pending technology that uses big data and algorithms. A huge amount of data – medical records – is then analyzed to learn how physicians treat certain conditions. Prescriptions that deviate from the expected will be flagged. In this way, health care professionals will get alerts to any potential errors in the prescription.
Mistakes concerning medicine can be dangerous and even fatal. This technology seeks to save lives and reduce unnecessary hospital admission. Overall, it will improve the efficiency of the healthcare system.
The company has already demonstrated success in the US in the past year, as well as at a hospital in Israel.
Preventing mistakes at home
Unfortunately, many patients make mistakes at home that are easily avoidable. The most common mistakes? Dosing errors and taking the same medication twice.
When talking with your practitioner, always mention the medications you are currently taking and the dose. Make sure to ask questions as to why you get a particular prescription. Clarify when exactly you need to take it.
You also need to find an effective method of keeping track of all your medications. You could use a written or online log or app. It is also a good idea to use a weekly pill organizer. Remember, store all medications out of the reach of children and animals.
Health practitioners and pharmacists should also be spending time educating patients. Doctors should teach patients Patients about their medications and dosage. A doctor might even want to ask how a patient stores and organizes their medication.
Hopefully with the increase of groundbreaking technology such as MedAware, prescription errors can be avoided. As patients, we too must develop our own personal medication system to ensure that we are doing everything as instructed.