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.