FDA 101: Medication Errors

 

A medication error is any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or harm to a patient. Since 2000, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received more than 95,000 reports of medication errors. FDA reviews reports that come to MedWatch6, the agency’s adverse event reporting program.

“These reports are voluntary, so the number of actual medication errors is believed to be higher,” says Carol Holquist, R.Ph., Director of the Division of Medication Error Prevention and Analysis in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

FDA works with many partners to track medication errors, including the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP). “Every report received through the USP/ISMP Voluntary Medication Error Reporting Program (MERP) automatically gets sent to FDA’s MedWatch program,” says Mike Cohen, R.Ph., Sc.D., President of ISMP. “It takes a cooperative approach to monitor errors, evaluate them, and educate the public about strategies to keep errors from happening again.”

Medication errors occur for a variety of reasons. For example, miscommunication of drug orders can involve poor handwriting, confusion between drugs with similar names, poor packaging design, and confusion of metric or other dosing units.

“Medication errors usually occur because of multiple, complex factors,” says Holquist. “All parts of the health care system—including health professionals and patients—have a role to play in preventing medication errors.”

Read the entire article on the FDA website ›

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