Key Issues in Medication and Their Impact on Patient Safety



Prescription drugs are important for improving and maintaining health. Almost 66% of adults in the US use prescription drugs. However, these medications can be harmful if not consumed as prescribed. Any preventable event that may cause inappropriate medication use leading to patient harm is called a medication error event. These events could be related to prescribing, product labeling, dispensing, administration, etc. As per WHO in 2017, the cost of medication errors has been estimated at US$42 billion annually or almost 1% of total global health expenditure. In the UK an estimated 237 million such events occur annually, with one-fourth requiring significant clinical care; while in the US, such events cause at least 1 death per day and injure approximately 1.3 million annually. Thus, these events are a major threat to patient safety.

How Do Technologies Help to Enhance Medication Safety?

An unfortunate but well-reported problem of modern health care is the prevalence of medication error events in hospitals. One method for reducing the impact of these events is using information technology. Different types of IT solutions are being leveraged to address medication errors at different stages of medication use, e.g. smart medical transcription, next-gen medication reconciliation and eRx solutions, RFID, automated dispensing cabinet, etc. The adoption of these technologies is anticipated to become increasingly necessary over the next decade as patient safety and satisfaction metrics are given more weightage in hospital service evaluation.