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According to a 1999 report issued by the Institute of Medicine, medical errors by pharmacies, hospitals and nursing homes have been responsible for the deaths of between 44,000 and 98,000 people per year! This astounding statistic can be attributed to some very simple problems within our health system. For example, placement of similarly sounding medication in different locations on the pharmacy shelf has proven to save lives. Pharmacists are less like to mis-fill a prescription with similarly sounding medication located in different areas of the pharmacy. Prescription mis-fills can also occur when a pharmacist or technician has trouble reading the filling physician’s handwriting.

Here is an example of a medication error incident which led to tragic results in a nursing home recently.

TUCSON, Ariz. Two Tucson-area care homes have been fined by the state for actions that led to the deaths of two residents in separate incidents.

The Arizona Daily Star says a medication error was blamed for the death of an 89-year-old man in May at ManorCare Health Services.

When you go to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription, make sure to check the label, look inside the bottle, ask the pharmacist to confirm the medication, its use and directions. Your pharmacist must offer to counsel you when you receive a new prescription. Accept this offer! Often times, simply opening up the medication bottle and pouring out the medication onto the counter can be a final check to catch errors and prevent injury. Simply looking at the medication inside a bottle can allow a pharmacist to catch confusion between similarly sounding drugs such as Zyrtec and Zyprexa, or Celebrex and Celexa. Pharmacists have the training to catch these mistakes through a final check before letting your medication go out the door. Also, ask your doctor to type or use computer generated prescriptions so that pharmacists do not have to analyze their handwriting. These simple tools save lives!

Nursing home injury details courtesy of KPHO TV News Five

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