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Experts offer tips for preventing blood thinner medication errors

The effects of a stroke can be devastating for Chicago patients and their families. Strokes cannot always be avoided, but when doctors provide patients with the proper care and attention they need after suffering a stroke, patients may have a better recovery. Some patients may even be able to avoid suffering subsequent strokes that could result in additional injuries or death by getting the proper amount of blood thinning medication they need to keep their health under control.

However, doctors and patients must also understand the risks that are associated with taking blood thinners, especially if a medication error is made. Like any type of medication, blood thinning medications may cause patients to experience side effects, but patients may also suffer serious or life-threatening injuries from blood thinning medication complications when doctors do not properly administer blood thinners.

In an effort to better prevent these types of medication errors, a panel of health care experts recently created new guidelines for medical professionals to follow when treating stroke victims and administering anticoagulants.

It is estimated that about 7 percent of medication errors that are made in our nation’s hospitals involve the improper use or administration of anticoagulants. These errors have the potential to cause patients to suffer disabling or fatal injuries. However, new guidelines created by a panel of health experts will hopefully help to prevent these types of errors from being made in the future.

The new guidelines, which have been published in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy, suggest that medication errors involving anticoagulants may be prevented when hospitals have standardized dosing protocols that doctors can review when accessing hospitals’ intranet sites, patients’ medical records or by reviewing procedures that are printed and posted on every hospital floor.

Medication errors involving blood thinners may also be prevented when doctors and health care professionals have a complete understanding of patients’ medical conditions, needs and their medical histories. Another simple way to reduce these errors is to make sure patients understand how their medications work and how they should be using their medications.

The panel also suggests that hospitals implement policies and procedures that focus on creating better communication habits among staff, doctors and nurses who are caring for and treating patients who are taking blood thinners.

Source: Health Canal, “New blood-thinning measures may cut medication errors,” Sam Hostettler, May 21, 2013


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