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Common causes of medication errors

On Behalf of | Feb 21, 2024 | blog, Medical Malpractice

Medication errors have serious consequences. Such mistakes, no matter the cause, may lead to further health complications or even death.

Understanding the most common triggers for these miscalculations can help prevent them from happening, thus improving patient safety.


One of the leading causes of medication errors is inadequate communication among healthcare professionals. Crossed lines can occur between doctors, nurses and pharmacists due to unclear handwriting, unintentional ambiguity or incomplete orders. Clarity and precision are paramount.

Lack of information

Healthcare providers need complete patient information, including previous allergies, current treatments and other conditions that could interact with a new prescription. The risk of prescribing a harmful medication or dosage increases when physicians do not have all the data on someone.

Similar medication names

Many drugs sound alike. Paying close attention to medication specifics and double-checking that they are correct helps prevent these mix-ups.

Human error

Like everyone else, pharmacists are imperfect. Errors can happen, especially if these workers are under stress. Burnout remains a severe problem in the pharmaceutical industry. Fatigue, distractions and multitasking sometimes lead to oversights in prescribing, dispensing or administering medicines.

Poor procedures or protocols

Occasionally, a healthcare facility might lack strict or effective rules regarding how to deal with medications. The absence of standardization creates a breeding ground for inconsistency and misjudgments. The implementation of strict guidelines can reduce such problems.

Understanding the common causes of medication errors is the responsibility of everyone working in healthcare. These professionals are duty-bound to minimize the peril and stop patients from inadvertently enduring unnecessary discomfort or facing more severe problems.


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