People trust the idea of intravenous (IV) drug administration as a safe and modern way to receive a drug. In many ways, it seems to eliminate much of the risk of human error that is inherent in the administration of prescription drugs.
After all, there is a machine helping to directly deliver medication to an individual to manage their pain or fight a very stubborn infection. The patient won’t be at risk of forgetting a dose, mixing up their pills or otherwise undermining the efficacy of their own treatment. IV medication is effective and efficient, but it is far from perfect.
In fact, researchers have found that a significant number of medication mistakes every year involve IV drug administration. What kinds of medical mistakes result in IV drug administration errors?
Timing errors are common
Researchers pointed out timing and dosage errors as two of the most frequent IV drug mistakes that occur. The professional setting up the machine might input the information about the medication improperly.
Mistakes regarding the nature of the medication or the rate of drug delivery can affect a patient’s reaction to the drug and its effectiveness. Timing errors can cause consequences ranging from pain reliever overdoses to antibiotic resistance due to major delays in drug delivery.
Medication switch-ups sometimes happen
The professionals setting up IV medications usually have multiple safeguard systems in place to ensure that the right patient receives the right medication. They may scan a barcode on the IV bag and then a barcode on a patient’s wristband, for example. Unfortunately, even with such precautions in place, distraction and fatigue can both contribute to medical professionals giving someone the wrong medication.
Compounding mistakes can also occur
Sometimes, the mistake with an IV occurs before it ever reaches the hospital. The pharmacist or technician compounding the drug could be the one to make a mistake. They might add the wrong ingredients, mislabel the suspension they create or send the wrong dosage. Any of those mistakes could lead to failed treatments or adverse reactions in the patient.
Understanding that IV medication errors are a common form of medical malpractice can help those harmed by negligence at an inpatient medical facility.