Types of Medication Errors

Common Types of Medication Errors

Medication errors are a failure in the treatment process that leads to, or has the potential to lead to, patient harm. There are several different types of medication errors, each with their own nuances and consequences. Medication errors are preventable and can lead to life-altering injuries for patients.

Below is a brief overview of common types of medication errors, their consequences, and how healthcare providers can prevent them.

Common Types of Medication Errors

  1. Prescribing Errors – these include prescribing the incorrect dosage, the wrong medication, or prescribing a medication the patient is allergic to.
  2. Administration Errors – when medications are given to the wrong patient or via the wrong route of administration. This can also include incorrect timing of medication administration or missed and double doses.
  3. Documentation Errors – these include incomplete or inaccurate medication records and the failure to document medication administration or patient response to medication.
  4. Dispensing Errors – this occurs when a pharmacy dispenses the incorrect medication or the medication includes incorrect labeling or packaging.
  5. Monitoring Errors – when a healthcare provider fails to monitor patient response to a medication or fails to recognize and address adverse reactions or side effects.
  6. Communication Errors – this includes a lack of communication between healthcare providers and miscommunication between healthcare providers and patients.
  7. Storage and Handling Errors – this includes improper storage leading to medication degradation or mishandling leading to contamination or spoilage.

Consequences of Medication Errors

Medication errors can have a wide range of consequences. A patient can have an adverse reaction like a rash that quickly goes away, or something as severe as anaphylaxis. Some medication errors can lead to additional treatment or hospitalizations. They can also make your current health conditions worse. In extreme cases, medication errors can lead directly to the death of the patient.

How to prevent Medication Errors

Medication errors can easily be prevented by better communication between healthcare providers. Every doctor who is treating you should have an accurate list of current medications, dosage, and frequency. Healthcare providers can also standardize the protocol for different medication administrations. Regularly conducting staff training on medication safety is key. Be sure and have a list of all of your current medications to ensure your doctor has the whole picture.


If you or a loved one has suffered injuries or harm from a medication error, Powers Taylor may be able to help. Our medical malpractice attorneys are well-versed in medication errors. Contact us today for a free consultation. All calls are confidential.


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