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Medication errors harm 1.5 million people, kill several thousand and cost the nation $3.5 billion annually

A new study from the Institute of Medicine released Thursday found that medication errors harm 1.5 million people, kill several thousand people and cost $3.5 billion per year in the United States.

Common errors are giving many times over the recommended dose, giving the wrong medication, and under medicating patients. Systemic changes are needed in the system to curtail the ill effects of medication errors. One of the proposed changes includes an electronic prescription service, however this system is used in only 6% of the nation’s hospitals.

The report also urged the Food and Drug Administration to improve and standardize the drug information leaflets given consumer because information on drug labels is often confusing and an important cause of medication errors.

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