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Lubbock County Medical Malpractice Attorney
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Study shows how drug histories are best left to pharmacists

A study led by Cedars-Sinai, a nonprofit medical center, shows that errors in drug and medication orders can be reduced by over 80 percent if pharmacy professionals take patients' drug histories in emergency departments. This is a significant find because in Texas and elsewhere in the U.S., drug histories are often taken by doctors and nurses.

The study analyzed 306 cases of patients visiting the Cedars-Sinai Emergency Department with medically complex histories. All the patients had a history of heart disease or another serious condition and were taking 10 or more prescription drugs. With pharmacists on the job, drug histories were marked by fewer errors, allowing the right drugs to be administered in the right dosage.

Part of the reason why medical staff members are prone to make mistakes is that they also are responsible for setting up and coordinating patient care. In contrast, a pharmacy expert can focus solely on taking drug histories. The task is often a difficult one for emergency departments as patients may arrive unconscious or incapacitated in some other way, and medication lists found in their pockets may be for a family member or have outdated items on them. In such cases, creating a drug history can require investigation, sometimes taking close to one hour for a single patient.

Medication errors, such as prescribing the wrong drug or prescribing ones that don't interact well with each other, can sometimes lead to permanent injuries and death. Victims of such errors can see a lawyer about filing an injury claim. An attorney may request an inquiry with the local medical board in order to find the root of the error. For example, a medical center may have allowed an unqualified doctor or nurse to take the victim's medical history. After the proof of negligence is established, the lawyer can negotiate a settlement.

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