When someone requests or purchases medication, it is only natural for them to assume they received the correct medication and instructions. After all, they might not have the specialized skills to determine otherwise. If the patient received the medication for the first time, they might also not have anything to compare it to.

In spite of this, WebMD reports that three Americans call poison control every minute because of medication errors. In fact, it estimates that errors related to medication mixups now stand at twice the numbers in 2000.

Most common medications

Some medications seem to involve a higher rate of mixups than others. This might also stem from the fact that some of the conditions they treat are more common than others. For instance, painkillers, insulin, hormone prescriptions and heart medications fall among the most common. In fact, together, this group accounts for four out of 10 medication errors.

Types of medication errors

According to a study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, errors occur in many different stages of the process:

  • Prescribing
  • Unauthorized drug
  • Improper dose
  • Compliance errors for dispensing medication
  • Administrative errors

Causes of medication errors

There are also various factors that contribute to why medication errors occur at any level. Among the most common are distortions, illegible writing and distractions. Distractions top the list and allegedly accounts for 75% of medication errors. This affects not just nurses and doctors but also pharmacists.

Reducing distractions in the workplace might have the greatest impact on reducing medication errors. To start, employers might take a good look at the different types of distractions and the sources of each.