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Training could reduce risk of medication errors

When Ohio residents visit a hospital or doctor, they are relying on a professional's judgment. While prescription medication can be an important part of restoring health and treating illness, medication errors can also be a common cause of patient injuries. Because prescription medicines can have serious side effects or interactions with other medicine, it is important that the initial prescription be correctly dispensed. Side effects that may be tolerable for the drug's other beneficial effects may become intolerable if the medication is actually unnecessary or ineffective.

One group of physician assistant students is looking into how to reduce the risk of prescription errors in clinics and hospitals. They conducted research on how patients are asked for information about their current prescription and non-prescription medications when coming for a clinical visit. Prior to each patient's visit, a medical record technician would conduct an interview about the patient's medications, entering the information in a way that could highlight any conflicts or problems. However, researchers found that technicians often lacked the training or a standardized system that could help them decide what to ask patients.

As a result, the technicians would sometimes ask only partial questions. In other cases, they would ask about overall issues but not about medications. Others did not know how to enter the information received into an electronic record or access the information already there. The researchers found that requiring a standard training regimen and a script meant that all patients were asked detailed, thorough questions about their current medicines.

Medication errors can lead to serious harm, especially when incorrect dosages, drug interactions or allergies are involved. People who have been injured due to a doctor's error can consult with a medical malpractice attorney about the potential to seek compensation for their damages.

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