In an effort to understand the root causes of medication errors made in hospitals in South Carolina and nationwide, the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority spearheaded a study that was published recently. In the study, researchers looked at both common causes of medication errors and ways that hospitals can eliminate these types of mistakes. The study considered medication errors to include giving patients the wrong drug, the wrong dosage or administering drugs to the wrong patient.
A drug shortage that led to dosage errors has been used as an example to help hospitals in South Carolina and other states determine how these mistakes occurred and to help prevent these types of errors in the future. At the end of 2010, the drug potassium acetate in the dosage of 2 mEq/mL was in short supply. To ensure that this drug was still available to patients, MedStar Health acquired 4 mEq/mL dosages of the drug. However, the dosage difference was not entered into hospital computers, and patients taking the drug received the wrong dosage.