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Electronic medication dosages may be harming senior patients

Electronic medical records may be recommending inaccurate drug dosages for senior patients in Oklahoma and nationwide, according to a study led by a New York City doctor. The research was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society in November.

Researchers found that the "default doses" generated by electronic records can be too strong for patients ages 65 and over. This is because the first dose recommended by electronic records is for the average adult, and many clinicians don't take the time to research the record for other recommended doses. Such an error can cause a geriatric patient to become ill or fall, especially if the overdosed medication is a painkiller or sleep aid.

In the study, researchers reviewed 324 falls involving patients ages 65 or older at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital during one 12-month period. Of the patients who fell, 62 percent had been given at least one high-risk medication in the previous 24 hours. Meanwhile, 16 percent of fall victims had been given two medications, and another 16 percent had received three medications.

A co-author of the study said electronic record default doses can also be wrong for those who don't weigh a lot or who have other special conditions. She also pointed out that, while the study was conducted at a hospital, inaccurate doses can be given at clinics or doctor's offices.

Oklahoma residents who have been harmed as a result of receiving an incorrect medication or dosage may want to contact an attorney to see what recourse they may have. Prescription errors can constitute medical malpractice if the prescribing physician or the pharmacist failed to exhibit the requisite standard of care.

Source: HealthLine, "Electronic Medication Dosages May Be Causing Problems for Seniors," David Mills, Nov. 29, 2016

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