Many people in Pennsylvania continue to be injured through medication errors. In fact, some 7 million people nationwide suffer from these errors, and when they go to the hospital to be treated, the sometimes long stays only worsen their condition. Elderly patients, those with one or more chronic diseases, those with an already complex medication regimen and those who take high-risk medications are especially prone to be victims of another’s error.

High-risk, or high-alert, medications are those that are likely to cause severe harm in the event of an error. Though risk levels can vary depending on the environment in which pharmacists and other healthcare professionals find themselves, high-risk medications can include anticoagulants, antimicrobials, potassium, opioids, insulin and anticholinergics.

To reduce errors with high-risk medications, access to such drugs should be limited. There should also be an outside support system to help patients understand how to take these medications, especially if they are taking multiple drugs in the first place.

Drug concentrations should be standardized, and an action plan should be in place to address drug shortages. Shortages, after all, require doctors to use a drug in a different size, dosage form or concentration than they are accustomed to. Hospitals and medical centers should also address the risks that come with using automated dispensing systems and electronic health records.

Whether they are given the wrong drug or the wrong dosage, victims of a medication error may be left dealing with short- or long-term injuries. Through the filing of a medical malpractice claim with the assistance of an attorney, they may be able to seek compensation from the doctor or the health care facility for the losses that they have incurred.