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Medication errors with cancer patients

Medication errors are among the most commonly occurring types of medical mistakes in California and elsewhere in the United States. One study involving cancer patients examines medication errors made in regard to individuals afflicted with this disease.

Minimal medication errors with cancer patients can have devastating consequences

The study undertaken among cancer patients at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital included a focus on how even “minimal” medication errors can have a profound impact on the health, well-being and mortality of this type of patient. Even so-called “slight” medication errors can be significantly impactful for a number of reasons:

  • Narrow therapeutic index of cancer treatment medications
  • Complex dosing requirements associated with cancer treatment medications
  • Potentially toxic nature of many cancer treatment medications

Rate of medication errors

In the final analysis, the rate of medication errors discovered during the study can be classified as alarming. Of the 110 participants in the study, 52 patients experienced a combined total of 78 medication errors, meaning 47% of the study patients endured medication errors. Detailed information about the medical and treatment consequences of individual patients who experienced medication errors was not readily available from this study.

Underlying cases of medication errors

As far as this particular study is concerned, the most common type of medication error arose from an administrative mistake. Dispensing errors were the least common underlying cause of medication errors among cancer patients in this study.

This study does have a limited pool of participants, so broad generalizations cannot be made. With that said, this study does illustrate the potential for medication errors in a setting involving the care and treatment of cancer patients. Individuals who have been negatively affected by medication errors may want to consult a medical malpractice attorney to learn about their options.