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Medication errors are studied and defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. According to the administration, a medication error is any preventable event that results in inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of a consumer, health care professional or patient. That means that regardless of the person using the medication, if it has been mislabeled or misused, the event can be seen as a medication error.

What kind of reasons could cause medication errors? According to the FDA, these events can result from a doctor writing the wrong prescription, by an order being recorded incorrectly, by poor product labeling, by the product’s packaging being completed incorrectly or by the product not being packed in the right container, by compounding errors, by dispensing errors through distribution errors and more.

The FDA’s Division of Medication Error Prevention and Analysis, known as DMEPA, has a medication error prevention program that is staffed with professionals from the health care field. Their duties include reviewing medication errors and reporting them to MedWatch, an FDA program where medication problems are reported by consumers and health care providers alike.

The DMEPA also reviews labeling, proprietary names, packaging and product design. Through this effort, the division is able to review these medications before they go to the pharmacies for dispensation; that allows any packing errors or confusing marketing product designs to be worked out before the medication goes on sale.

If any kind of medication errors has affected you, remember that you have rights as a patient. You may be entitled to compensation that can cover the injuries and medical bills you’ve been left with.