4 ways a medication error could occur in Illinois

Medication errors may be serious and even fatal for patients in Illinois.

It is a common scenario: A patient in Illinois is ill. He or she goes to a doctor, receives a prescription and starts taking medicine. In a less common scenario, that patient experiences a serious reaction due to the medication.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality suggests that 5 percent of people in a hospitalized setting experience an adverse drug event. While that may sound like a small percentage, the incident is anything but insignificant for those who experience it. In fact, a medication error could be fatal.

Knowing how and why these incidents occur helps consumers remain safe. Here are four ways an adverse drug reaction may come to be:

1. An allergic reaction

There is a good reason that physicians ask patients if they have any known drug allergies. Giving someone a medicine to which they are allergic would land the patient in a much worse position. And drug allergies are fairly common; the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America estimates that up to 10 percent of people are allergic to the commonly prescribed antibiotic penicillin.

2. The wrong drug

Patients may be susceptible to receiving the wrong drug, either because a medical professional misinterprets handwriting, fails to double check the patient's information or confuses the name of one drug for another. Many drugs sound or look the same but have very different effects.

3. The wrong dose

First, you need the correct medicine. Then, you need the correct dosage. Giving a child a drug requires extra attention in this area, because their medications are usually based on body weight. This requires an extra step for doctors and nurses, thus provides another opportunity for a mistake in the hospital.

4. Interacting drugs

Many medications do not play well with others. In fact, a patient may suffer extreme side effects when taking two drugs that do not get along. It could be that one medication mutes the other's ability to be effective. Or, it could be that the patient suffers headaches, nausea, dizziness or worse.

Prevent it

If the above incidents sound highly preventable, it is because they are. The AHRQ states that roughly half of the adverse drug events that occur could have been stopped. Simply put, medical professionals must be prudent. A doctor should be aware of someone's medical history and current medications before recommending a drug. Patients should know exactly how and when to take a drug, such as taking it with food or at night.

When a medical mistake leads to a serious adverse drug reaction, patients in Illinois have the right to hold those people and facilities accountable. Anyone who has concerns about this topic should speak with a personal injury attorney in Illinois.