The National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention expressed the urgent need to reduce the number of lives lost due to medication errors. Estimates indicate that more people in Delaware and other states die due to medical errors each year than in car accidents. Breast cancer and AIDS also cause large numbers of deaths, but even those numbers are lower than deaths linked to medical errors.
The agency says a significant percentage of those deaths involve medication errors, estimated to exceed the annual number of occupational fatalities. According to the NCC MERP, medication errors are preventable events where medication in a health care professional’s control is inappropriately used, causing harm to the patient. Medication errors could be linked to any of the following:
- Professional practice
- Systems, procedures and prescribing
- Packaging, terminology and product labeling
- Compounding, dispensing and distribution
- Education, administration, monitoring and use
The NCC MERP aims to increase medication-error awareness, prevention and reporting. The council’s goals include the following:
- Evaluate and examine medication error causes
- Help health care organizations develop evaluation and reporting systems
- Encourage a national strategy for reporting, reviewing and analyzing medication errors
- Developing recommendations to ultimately bring about medication error prevention
- Promote awareness and prevention of medication errors throughout all health care avenues
- Advocate systematic and strategic modifications to systems involving packaging and labeling medications.
While all the suggested methods to reduce and ultimately prevent medication errors might save lives in the long run, Delaware residents could fall victim to such errors in the meantime. When that happens, they might have grounds to file medical negligence lawsuits to recover medical expenses and other damages. Likewise, surviving family members of those who died due to medication errors could pursue financial relief by filing wrongful death lawsuits in a civil court.