Handwritten Prescriptions More Likely to Cause Medication Errors

Although many medical centers are using electronic records, which give doctors the ability to prescribe medications to their patients by using their computers, many doctors still write their prescriptions out by hand. According to a study recently released by the Weill Cornell Medical College, this old-school practice can actually put patients at risk.

Researchers looked at description errors - such as errors related to the quantity of a medication and the failure to consider a patient's allergies when writing the prescription - that occurred in 12 medical practices in the New York State Hudson Valley region. After comparing paper-based prescriptions to electronic prescriptions, researchers found that from September 2005 to June 2007, there were 37 medication errors for every 100 prescriptions that were written out on paper. In contrast, there were only seven medication errors that were related to the use of e-prescribing software.

The Dangers of Medication Errors

According to the Institute of Medicine, there are about 1.5 million preventable medication errors made each year. These errors can include prescribing the wrong medication to a patient, prescribing the wrong dosage of the correct medication and errors related to the administration of the drug - such as prescribing a medication for oral use when it should be taken intravenously or prescribing a drug that causes dangerous interactions with other medications.

Preventing Medication Errors

Although many patients may not fully understand the complexities of the medications they have been prescribed, there are ways to prevent the likelihood of a medication error. In order to do this, patients can ask their medical practitioners questions about why a drug is being prescribed, the medication's name and how to take the medication. In addition, patients can keep the list of all of the medications they are taking and be on the lookout for adverse reactions.

Do You Need Legal Help?

If you have been injured because of a medication error, you may be able to receive compensation for your medical bills and pain and suffering. Contact a qualified personal injury attorney right away, so that you can be advised of your rights and get the help that you need in filing a claim.