Receiving Medications at the Hospital
Many types of insulin come in a pen device to make it easier to prepare and administer each dose. Although the pens hold numerous insulin doses, each pen is intended to be used by one person only. Even if the needle on the pen is changed, the pen can become contaminated with blood. After an injection, blood or other cells from the person can get inside the cartridge that holds the insulin. If the person has a serious disease such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B, or hepatitis C, it can be passed on to the next person who uses the pen.
A rare but fatal error can occur when the cancer medicine vincristine is given the wrong way. Vincristine is given intravenously (into the vein) to treat various types of cancer. It is often given in combination with another cancer medicine called methotrexate. Methotrexate can be given into the spinal canal (intrathecally). This helps prevent the cancer from spreading to the brain. If vincristine is mistakenly given into the spinal canal instead of the methotrexate, death is almost certain.
It’s a fact of life. Medication errors happen every day in all healthcare settings, even in the most prestigious medical centers. And more than ever, consumers are aware of just how often these medications errors can happen. But with this knowledge comes power. Consumers can and should take an active role when it comes to medication safety during a hospitalization.
Swallowing unintended objects and substances is a pretty common problem among sick patients. For example, patients recovering from anesthesia in a hospital or receiving other sedating medications may not be thinking clearly. These patients may rely more on instinct and grab what they believe has been left for them by their caregivers. However, even patients with a clear mind may simply trust that anything a nurse or physician leaves at the bedside is “safe” or “ready to use.”
If you or a family member has been hospitalized, the first few days after returning home can be confusing. In fact, let's use the word "risky" when it comes to medication use.
The story: A pain relief system known as patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) allows a patient to take pain medication without having to call a nurse. It's used most often in the hospital. The concept is simple: A pump containing pain medication is attached to your intravenous line (the tube that goes into your vein).
A pediatrician prescribed 1/4 teaspoonful of Rondec-DM syrup (brompheniramine, dextromethorphan, and pseudoephedrine) four times each day for a child with a bad cold. This medicine is used to treat coughing and a runny or stuffy nose.
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations is an independent agency that sets standards for US hospitals. The Joint Commission visits hospitals often to see if they are meeting these standards. This agency is especially concerned about your safety.
Hello, my name is... When you are admitted to a hospital or seen at a clinic, you are usually given an identification (ID) bracelet to wear. This bracelet lists your name, your birth date, and usually at least one other number. Some hospitals use other bracelets to signal important information like allergies. Nurses must check these bracelets before giving you any medicine to confirm you are the right patient and to make sure you are not allergic to the medicine. But what if your bracelets are hidden?
If you are hospitalized, nurses will typically give you the medicine your doctor has prescribed. But if the medicine the nurse brings to you doesn’t seem right, it might be that an error has happened. You may be hesitant to speak up about the potential problem. You may believe your doctor and nurse know more about medicine than you do. But in some cases, your instincts may be right, as in the example that follows.