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Medication errors prompt standards review

Ohioans who receive medicine in health care facilities may be susceptible to injuries from medication errors. According to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, one noteworthy factor in the incidence of such mistakes is the fact that intravenous and liquid oral medications aren’t dosed in standardized concentrations. For instance, an emergency room staff that switches a patient off of the IV inserted by an EMT may use completely different drug measurement standards. Similar discrepancies could occur in the operating room or intensive care unit.

To lower the chances of these errors occurring, ASHP has embarked on an FDA-backed program to standardize dosing concentrations. The program, which was initially laid out in three phases, seeks to create uniform measurements for concentrations and dosing for adults and pediatric patients. It specifically addresses several administration methods, including continuous infusion, standard and compounded oral liquids, epidurals, patient-controlled delivery systems and oral chemotherapy medications.

At the time of reporting, ASHP was scheduled to publish its first draft for compounded oral liquid administration by end of June 2016. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Health and Medicine Division said that 1.5 million U.S. patients get injured by medication mistakes annually. Many of these injuries occur when patients transition from one caregiver to another.

Medication errors can result in serious health problems or even fatalities. For instance, patients may suffer due to bad interactions with medicines their bodies reject or continue to get sick as their original, improperly treated symptoms grow more severe. While factors like unstandardized dosing practices can play a part in such errors, hospitals and individual caregivers may also exhibit medical negligence by failing to follow established procedures or turning over patients incorrectly. Victims who wish to pursue legal compensation may be assisted by a lawyer.