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How Computer-Based Records Still Fail to Prevent Hospital Medication Overdoses

October 23rd, 2018
By Zach Christiansen of The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation on Tuesday, October 23, 2018.

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana. According to Wired, on average, 1 in 15 hospital patients will suffer the consequences of medication errors. These kinds of medical errors cost hospitals $21 billion each year. Wired reports that many hospitals believed that the advent of computer-based medication ordering would improve patient health and reduce the number of errors. After all, a computer system could record a patient’s allergies, and flag any potentially dangerous interactions. Doctors could carefully calibrate dosage using the help of computers.

However, Wired recently published an investigation on the ways in which technology can open the doors to new and potentially deadly types of prescription drug errors. When hospitals switch from paper systems, or when they switch between different types of electronic medical records systems, they must make decisions about how the health records will be structured. According to the Wired article, one hospital might choose to flag medical prescriptions that are much higher than the recommended dose, while another hospital won’t choose to flag higher doses.

Why would a hospital not choose to flag prescriptions above the recommended dose? Research hospitals may often have to vary the dosage patients receive, and in some cases, doctors can exceed the recommended dosage safely, especially with a patient suffering from a rare disease. Hospitals that frequently handle rare cases might choose to bypass the warning system so that doctors and pharmacists aren’t overburdened with frequent flags.

According to HealthLeaders, there are several key points of weaknesses where pharmacy errors can take place. Some of the key points where medication errors can take place occur when patients are admitted to the ER. Patients who take many medications are most at risk of experiencing errors. One way hospitals can prevent errors from occurring is by double checking the medications prescribed with the medications in the patient’s chart. Systems can sometimes get dosages wrong when they are manually entered. Errors can also occur during administration of the drug, especially if a nurse confuses one patient for another. Patients and families can also self-advocate if they know what dosage they should receive. Patients and families can ask nurses what medication is being administered and what dose is being administered. However, it shouldn’t be up to patients to correct medical errors. Doctors and hospitals have a responsibility to evaluate the weaknesses in their computerized systems and put in place checks to prevent them from happening.

What can you do if a loved one has suffered an overdose in a hospital setting? The The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm are pharmacy error lawyers in New Orleans, Louisiana who work closely with victims and families who have been hurt due to medical malpractice. If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of a hospital or doctor’s error, you may have certain rights under the law. Visit our Firm at to learn more about your options and rights.

The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation

1615 Poydras Street, Suite 1050

New Orleans, Louisiana, 70112

Phone: (504) 586-5200

Toll Free: (504) 586-5200

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