Home-based medication errors are becoming more common, according to a report from The Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and  published a study in Clinical Toxicology. 1

Researchers noted that the rate of medication errors, which occurred outside of health facilities and occurred mainly in homes, was 1.09 for every 100,000 Americans in 2000, and rose to 2.28 in 2012. All age groups, except children under 6 years of age, experienced an increase in medication error frequency and rates. In children 6 years or younger, medication error rates decreased after 2005. The researchers noted that this was likely attributable to decreased the use of cough and cold medicines in this age group.

According to the study, the most common errors were associated with cardiovascular drugs (21%), analgesics (12%), and hormones/hormone antagonists (11%). Cardiovascular and analgesic drugs were the cause of most fatalities due to drug errors.

Reasons for medication errors varied from being prescribed the wrong medication to having the incorrect dosage measurement. Consuming someone else’s medication by accident was the most common error among children. About 30% of these medication errors caused patients to receive hospital treatment.

Nationwide Children’s Hospital suggested writing down medication information for other caregivers to avoid dosage error and emphasized the importance of the pharmacists’ role in teaching parents, patients, and caregivers how to take or give medications. Using child-proof containers and pill planners is also recommended, as well as keeping pills in cabinets that children cannot reach.

“Drug manufacturers and pharmacists have a role to play when it comes to reducing medication errors,”  Henry Spiller, MD, D.ABAT, and director of the Central Ohio Poison Center said in a press release.2 “There is room for improvement in product packaging and labeling. Dosing instructions could be made clearer, especially for patients and caregivers with limited literacy or numeracy.”

  1. Hodges NL, Spiller HA, Casavant MJ, et al. Non-health care facility medication errors resulting in serious medical outcomes. Clinical Toxicology. July 10, 2017. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15563650.2017.1337908
  2. Study finds rate of medication errors resulting in serious medical outcomes rising [news release]. Columbus, OH. Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s website. July 10, 2017.  http://www.nationwidechildrens.org/news-room-articles/study-finds-rate-of-medication-errors-resulting-in-serious-medical-outcomes-rising?contentid=164068. Accessed July 11, 2017.