It’s Not the Cure That’s Worse Than the Disease; It’s the Care

One-a-Day is the name of a popular vitamin, but it also is the frequency with which any hospital patient will be the victim of a medication error. The causes, according to the Institute of Medicine, include sound-alike drugs, bad physician penmanship and poorly labeled pharmaceutical packaging.

Today, being diagnosed with a disease or injury is the good news; at least you know what you have. The bad news is you may have to go to the hospital. Seven years ago, the IOM estimated as many as 98,000 Americans a year don’t go home from the hospital, simply because someone made a mistake in their care. This week, the IOM determined that there are at least 1.5 million medication errors made each year at a cost estimated at $3.5 billion.

In this consumer-driven health care system, you, the patient, will have to immunize yourself from error by taping a legible list of your medications to your torso, drawing in indelible ink an arrow pointing to the body part that is ailing and joining at your hip a friend or relative to monitor everything a doctor, nurse, orderly or hospital administrator does to you.

Oh, and be sure to order yourself some flowers, just in case.

The material in this press release comes from the originating research organization. Content may be edited for style and length. Want more? Sign up for our daily email.

1 thought on “It’s Not the Cure That’s Worse Than the Disease; It’s the Care”

  1. The depth of this problem is in the layers of handling of a prescription. The doctor could write the wrong prescription (just the other day, my father was prescribed a drug that could have killed him in combination with his exsisting medication, the attending doctor never asked him if he was on anything else), the pharmacist could give you the wrong drug or the pharmacist could mis-lable the drug.

    Luckily most people don’t have to contend with the worst of all, in developing nations, sofisticated counterfiet pharmaceuticals are sold to hospitals that contain no medication at all (See this recent article in PLoS Medicine: Manslaughter by Fake Artesunate in Asia).


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