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Medication errors: Heartbreaking, deadly and unfortunately common

When administering medication at home to yourself or your children, you probably read the instructions carefully and follow them to the letter. We all do this because we understand how dangerous it can be to deviate from the medicine's dosage instructions. Medical personnel understand this, too, probably better than we do.

Most people employed in Illinois health care facilities are careful when it comes to prescribing and administering medication. However, mistakes still happen, often with deadly consequences. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's publication, "Strategies to Reduce Medication Errors" lists several factors that may lead to these errors.

-- Confusing one medication with a similarly-named drug

-- Misinterpreting prescription medication handwriting

-- Administering medicine to the wrong patient

-- Lack of medical employee knowledge

At the same time, the FDA is quick to point out that most medication errors can be traced to "multiple factors in a complex medical system." The U.S. government has put many regulations in place to reduce medical malpractice in the form of medication errors. However, at the risk of being redundant, mistakes still happen, some of them with minor consequences and some with major consequences.

When drug errors happen, the question consumers must then face is: What, if anything, should we do about them? As attorneys who have handled many unfortunate medical malpractice cases, we feel it is our duty to urge anyone impacted by medication mistakes to take some form of action.

If the mistake caused no real harm, it is still crucial to hold those responsible accountable. Make sure hospital administration members know about the error and encourage them to revamp the facility's drug policies. If the mistake was catastrophic or fatal, it is a huge mistake to allow those responsible to escape the consequences.

In short, taking immediate action is the best way Chicago residents can help the government reduce medication errors. Please read more on our website.

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