In a fresh warning about the dangers of institutional medicationerrors, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a new report concludingthat 400,000 preventable drug errors occur in hospitalseach year. Even more disturbing, the IOM report found that theaverage hospital patient is subject to at least one medication mixupfor each day in the hospital.
Overall, medication mistakes injure more than 1.5 millionAmericans every year, and the cost of these errors is enormous,according to the IOM. The cost exceeds $3.5 billion annually, notincluding lost productivity and other indirect costs. On a perpatientbasis, a single serious drug error can add more than $8750to the average hospital bill, the report confirmed.
Noting that at least 1 in 4 of these errors is preventable, the IOMcalled on pharmacists, physicians, and government officials totake steps to reduce the rate of medication mistakes. To addressthe problem, the report called on the government to speed electronicprescribing by encouraging compatibility among the variedcomputer programs used by doctors, hospitals, and drugstores.