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Study examines medication liability claims

North Carolina patients who are prescribed opioids or anticoagulants may be at a greater risk of a medical error than those who take other types of medications. According to a study by the insurer Coverys, around one-quarter of liability claims were related to opioids while 16 percent were related to anticoagulants. In 15 percent of cases, there were opioid claims along with allegations of inappropriate physician behavior.

The insurer examined over 10,000 liability claims for the years 2012 to 2016. Medication came in fourth place as a reason for liability claims with claims related to diagnosis, surgery and medical management ahead of it.

Coverys identified ways to reduce the likelihood of medication errors. The study found that there is a greater risk of error when patients are very young or very old or when they are very small or very heavy. It also found that the points at which an error is most likely to happen are at the beginning and end of a medication episode. Medication safety also involves identifying the varying challenges presented by different care settings. Finally, the report noted that increased use of anticoagulants and opioids also increases the likelihood of complications.

Errors related to medication can take a variety of forms. A person could be given the wrong medication or the wrong dosage, and the error could be due to an improper prescription, a mistake in reading the prescription or an error in giving the medication. If a person gets the wrong dosage or type of medication, suffers harm as a result and wishes to file a claim for medical malpractice, it is necessary to determine who is at fault. For example, the mistake could be a result of hospital negligence or a pharmacist's error.

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Daniel Pleasant Holoman LLP

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