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Medication Errors Common in Transplant Patients

Many errors result in serious adverse events including allograft rejection

MONDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- Problems with medication are common in transplant patients who are being treated in an outpatient setting, with about half of the errors due to the patient and nearly one-third due to health care system mix-ups or incorrect prescriptions, researchers report in the March issue of the Archives of Surgery.

Amy L. Friedman, M.D., of Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues reviewed all liver, kidney and/or pancreas allograft recipients treated between April 2004 and March 2005. The patients were taking a mean of 10.9 drugs each, and there were 149 medication errors in 93 patients. Adverse events included hospitalization, outpatient invasive procedures, rejection and failed allografts, which occurred in 32 percent of these errors.

The majority of errors (56 percent) were caused by the patient, such as failing to use an available medication. However, other causes included a failure to provide a correct prescription (13 percent) and failure to record the medication (8 percent). Pharmacies and other health care entities accounted for 27 percent of the errors. For example, in some cases, pharmacists filled prescriptions with generic cyclosporine in non-equivalent doses.

"We should strive to continue to eliminate health care system-based errors through centralized records and other streamlining methods to improve processes," the authors write. "In doing so, it seems likely that our patients will gain confidence in us and our ability to help them navigate a complex and confusing system."

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