How Do Medication Errors Happen?

Posted on August 10, 2015 by Shapiro Law Group

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials have issued a warning over confusion on an antidepressant and blood-thinning medication with similar names. According to the FDA, they have received 50 reports of medication errors involving Brintellix and Brilinta. Many of the cases reported to the FDA were over concerns about the similarity of the names and look of the medications. However, in a few cases, the wrong medications were given to patients.

Although the two drugs have similar names, they have vastly different effects on the human body. Brintellix is an SSRI medication used to treat depression. Brilinta is a blood-thinning medication used to help prevent stroke, heart attack and other cardiovascular conditions.

This is a perfect example of why medication errors happen in pharmacies, hospitals and other health care settings every year. According to statistics from the Institute of Medicine, medication errors injure 1.5 million Americans every year. In many cases, health care practitioners may have the wrong patient or drug information. Other cases involve poor communication between doctors, pharmacies and patients.

How Can Patients Avoid Medication Errors?

It is extremely important that doctors, hospitals and other health care professionals engage in effective communication with patients. The American Association of Family Physicians recommends health care practitioners ask questions about medical history, allergies, and patient-specific identifiers such as birth date and name.

Patients can also decrease the risk of being injured by medication errors. The National Library of Medicine operates a website called, where patients can input information to help identify medications. Patients can input the color, imprint, shape, size and label to receive accurate information before taking medications.

For further information on medication errors, we encourage our readers to continue exploring our website.

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