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Medication errors are medical events that could cause or lead to the injury of a patient. They can be caused by the inappropriate use of medications or mistakes in dispensing medications, but they are usually preventable.

Medication errors become the fault of physicians or other health care professionals if it’s proven that they were in control of the medical care of the patient. For instance, if you buy a drug over the counter and become ill, it would not be the fault of your doctor, who is unable to control what OTC meds you purchase.

Medication errors aren’t just about the drug itself; in fact, poor marketing, prescribing errors, miscommunication about physicians’ orders, poor product labeling and other issues could be categorized as medication errors also.

If a medication error is recognized nationally, like in the case of a mass-produced — but incorrect — drug dosage, the National Alert Network will publish the alarm from the National Medication Errors Reporting Program. Sharing information about medication errors is encouraged so that further errors do not take place in the future.

One thing that often causes medication errors is an abbreviation. Abbreviations can be mistaken for one another; e.g., “U,” which stands for “units,” could be mistaken for a zero or a four, depending on how it’s written.

Our website has more information about what to do if you’ve been injured because a doctor or pharmacist made a mistake with your prescription or ordered a drug that was not safe for you to use. Whether the drug was mixed wrong or you suffered because of a known allergy, you deserve to have your case heard.