February 1st 2004
Numerous factors contribute to the medication errors that kill up to 98,000 patients each year. Unnecessarily high dosages can result in increased side effects with only a small therapeutic benefit, especially in elderly patients. Lack of patient information-such as a history of allergies or adverse drug reactions-is another cause of error and injury. Communication failures include the use of ambiguous abbreviations, misinterpretation of verbal orders, and lack of timely response to a patient's medication-related symptoms. Dosing errors are common in children because of variability in dosage expressions in drug references. Remedies for prescribing errors are described in detail here.