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The Top 10 Medication Errors and Hazards

By Jack H. FarnbauchApril 2, 2020

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), a nonprofit organization devoted entirely to preventing medication errors, has completed their most recent study and published the findings. According to the study, each year 7,000 to 9,000 people in the United States die due to medication errors. Most errors occur at the ordering or prescribing stage as a result of a healthcare provider writing the wrong medication, wrong route or dose, or the wrong frequency. These mistakes account for nearly 50% of medication errors. 

The ISMP has also published a top ten list of the most persistent medication errors and safety issues. The list is the following:

1. Selecting the wrong medication after entering the first few letters of the drug name;

2. Daily, instead of weekly, oral methotrexate for non-oncologic conditions;

3. Lookalike product labeling;

4. Misheard requests and communications;

5. Unsafe overrides with automated dispensing cabinets;

6. Unsafe use of IV push meds;

7. Wrong route errors with tranexamic acid;

8. Unsafe labeling of prefilled syringes and infusions by compounders;

9. Using syringes for vinca alkaloids; and,

10. Zinc overdoses.

You can read more about these medication errors, along with recommendations to help minimize or avoid them here