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Medication error causes man to become seriously ill

When you've been hospitalized for an illness, it's hard to keep track of everything that is going on in regards to your care. And, when you do understand how everything is working and the medications you are taking, you are being discharged. For an 81-year-old man, after his hospitalization, he became seriously ill after his doctor instructed him to continue all of his pre-op medications following his surgery. What they later found out is that the doctor hadn't meant for him to take all of the medications, and the man ended up back in the emergency room because of a medication error.

The man had been experiencing double vision and a biopsy was performed at the hospital on an outpatient basis. He was prescribed a high dose of prednisone before the biopsy to prevent inflammation and the man continued taking the prednisone following the surgery thinking the doctor meant for him to take all of his medication.

He ended up in the emergency room a few days later with steroid-induced psychosis. He was in the hospital for a month and his daughters experienced a lot of mistakes that the hospital staff made when they weren't around. Their father was given standard meal trays instead of the sugar and salt-free meals that were prescribed, they found pills in his bed clothes or on the floor that he should have taken, he was left in the hall for hours after an MRI waiting for someone to take him back to his room, and one day he put his clothes on and walked right out of the hospital, took a cab and went home. No one noticed that he was gone until one of the daughters alerted the hospital staff.

The family feels that although these mistakes happened, people need to realize that hospitals can't take care of everything and that patients and family members need to be assertive and to speak up when situations are handled improperly.

The institute of Medicine published a report in 1999 that states that medication errors in hospitals are attributed to 98,000 deaths every year and some feel that this number is probably higher.

The bottom line is that patients and their advocates need to take an active role in their care and ask questions, take notes on the medications they are given and if something isn't right, speak up so the issue gets addressed and resolved.

Source: MSNBC.com, "Survive your hospital stay with patient checklist," Michelle Andrews, Mar. 7, 2012

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