With the right medication management, physicians can make a difference
Why are medication practices and/or medication errors such a big issue in health care?
Medications factor prominently into accidental deaths in the U.S. In fact, drug overdoses are the leading cause, and opioids account for more than 60 percent of drug overdose deaths. Consequently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has taken notice, choosing Medication Safety as the theme for this year’s world patient safety day. Additionally, medication management is where most providers can make the greatest impact within their professional practice arena.
Data from closed claims shows that medication management is a risky area, most prominently monitoring the treatment plan. Monitoring and management begin when the patient receives the prescription and continues until the patient is no longer taking it. An effective risk management process is essential for safe patient care. Having current patient medication information will assist with subsequent prescribing and a care plan.
How prevalent are serious medication errors?
Over the past ten years, around 6.5 percent of all major allegations made against members of The Doctors Company involved medications. With most of those claims (65%) occurring in an ambulatory or outpatient setting, implications for how clinicians approach medication safety in their practices are significant.
The most serious cases often include the negligent prescription of opioid medications. With opioids, patients are typically requesting and being given higher and higher doses, with allegedly insufficient oversight and monitoring. Those adverse events can be very serious, including the death of the patient, and the consequences that follow often include criminal penalties for the practitioner.
What can healthcare providers do to promote medication safety and the best practices?
When it comes to promoting medication safety, there are three key areas all healthcare providers should focus on:
Engage Patients in Medication Safety
Stay Up to Date and Put Protocols in Place
Be Collaborative & Communicative
Richard F. Cahill, JD, is Vice President and Associate General Counsel for The Doctors Company. The 35-year healthcare litigation veteran provides legal support to the Claims and Patient Safety departments.
David L. Feldman, MD, MBA, FACS, is Senior Vice President & Chief Medical Officer of Healthcare Risk Advisors (HRA) and Chief Medical Officer of TDC Group. A renowned patient safety advocate, he has spoken with numerous leaders in the field of patient safety for Leading Voices in Healthcare.