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Ken Margolin
Ken Margolin
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Medication Error Reduction Efforts Continue

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The ground breaking book, Medication Errors, edited by Michael R. Cohen, was published in 1999. In November of this year, Medication Errors 2nd Edition, was released. A review the book reveals the nature of some of the still-problematic areas of medication errors, as well as the ongoing efforts of the medical profession to reduce them.

Pediatric medication errors continue to be a serious problem. When children are given the wrong medicines or given medication overdoses, the results can be catastrophic. Children’s bodies have less tolerance for medication mistakes, and when they are given incorrect doses, they often receive an adult dose, which may be much greater than the proper amount of the drug. Neonates are even more vulnerable. Cancer treatment is another area in which serious mistakes are still made in unacceptably high numbers. Cancer patients receiving medication treatment, especially chemotherapy, may have compromised immune systems and weakened ability to weather the affect of a drug mistake. Drugs with similar-sounding names but completely different purposes, can kill, as can the still too common use of abbreviations and dose expressions that can be easily mis-transcribed or mis-read. Technology continues to hold promise in lowering the incidence of medication errors, as does recognition that vigilance at every stage of the process of creating, packaging, prescribing, and administering medications, is essential. The good news is that improvements continue and that the medical profession recognizes the need for ongoing progress. The bad news is that there is a need for the 2nd edition of Medication Errors.