Hospitals’ medicine mistakes spike, but more mysteries revealed

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Hospitals’ medicine mistakes spike, but more mysteries revealed

Hospitals have switched from handwritten prescriptions and pills in Dixie cups to computerized order entry and robotic drug dispensing, but one thing hasn’t changed over the past two decades: the small but severe risk of injuries and deaths from medication errors.

In a new report, Minnesota hospitals disclosed four deaths and 10 serious injuries related to medication errors in the 12-month period ending last Oct. 6. That’s the highest total in 12 years of “adverse event” reporting in Minnesota, which remains one of only five states to publicly disclose hospital errors as part of a concerted effort to prevent them.


“One is too many,” said Dr. Beth Thomas, interim chief medical officer for Fairview Health Services, which reported five medication errors at the University of Minnesota Medical Center last year and a sixth at Southdale Hospital in Edina.

Disabling or fatal medication errors have vexed hospital officials statewide, because they can occur at so many different points along the prescription pipeline.

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