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Medication Errors Common During Hospital Admission

Researchers found mistakes in 53 percent of patients admitted

TUESDAY, March 1, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Medication errors are common when patients are being admitted to a hospital, and some have the potential to be harmful, Canadian researchers report.

The study found many errors occurred as admissions personnel recorded the patient's medication use history. Those types of mistakes can result in the failure of staff to detect drug-related problems, or lead to interrupted or inappropriate drug therapy during hospitalization, the researchers said.

In reviewing the records of 151 hospital inpatients, University of Toronto investigators found that more than 53 percent had at least one unintended error in the drug treatment they received. The most common error involved the omission of a regularly used medication.

Nearly 40 percent of the errors had the potential to cause discomfort or a decline in the patient's condition, the researchers concluded.

"To improve patient care and minimize the potential costs of preventable adverse drug events, the health-care system should explore ways to improve the accuracy of the hospital admission medication history," wrote lead researcher Patricia L. Cornish.

The study appears in the Feb. 28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about medication errors.

SOURCES: American Medical Association, news release, Feb. 28, 2005
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