Failure to administer prescribed medication is the most frequently reported medication error in hospitals, but the most common type of error in the emergency department involves incorrect dosages, according to U.S. Pharmacopeia, Rockville, Md., a public health advocacy organization. The pressure, fast pace and interruptions not only lead to prescribing errors but also reduce the chances that errors will be caught before affecting the patient. Among 105,600 errors documented in the agency's database in 2001, 2,063, or 2%, occurred in ERs. In other areas of the hospital, 39% of prescribing errors were intercepted before reaching the patient, but only 23% were intercepted in the ER. Of the reported errors, 7.6% resulted in patient injury, including one death. Among other proposed remedies, U.S. Pharmacopeia called for assigning more pharmacists to ERs, entering prescription orders electronically, and buying premixed intravenous solutions and unit doses. -- by John Morrissey
Wrong dose most common drug error in ER: report
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