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How common are medication errors?

If you think medication errors are uncommon, it's important to know that some reports have shown them to be the seventh leading cause of death and a rather common type of medical malpractice. Below are a few key statistics to note from studies that have been conducted:

-- One report dealt with 2,266 anesthesiologists, asking them how often they made mistakes. A full 30 percent said they'd made mistakes more than once.

-- Another report was based on accounts of 27,454 anesthesia procedures, starting in 1999 and ending in 2007. There were a total of 233 medication errors in those procedures, though 6.2 percent were classified as mere clerical errors. Still, 25 percent were overdose errors, 23 percent were substitution errors and 21 percent were omission errors

-- In a third report, a full 89 percent of those who responded to a survey said they'd made at least one drug administration error.

-- A fourth report looked at 2,000 anesthetic procedures that were carried out, and it found 144 cases in which the wrong drug was administered.

-- A fifth study looked at 55,426 cases, and it only found 63 drug errors, which is just 0.11 percent -- vastly lower than the other studies. Out of these 63, only three of them were deemed to be serious.

As you can see, finding exact numbers can be hard since every study is so different, but they all do tell you one important thing: Drug errors happen every single year, and you need to know your legal rights in Illinois if you or a loved one is the victim of one.

Source: NCBI, "Medication error in anaesthesia and critical care: A cause for concern," Dilip Kothari, Suman Gupta, Chetan Sharma, and Saroj Kothari, accessed July 12, 2016

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