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Strokes Due to Medical Errors

Mistakes relating to medication are a common but avoidable cause of stroke. In fact, the Physicians Insurance Association of America reports that prescription error cases cost $219 million annually, and that they are the second most frequent type of medical malpractice cases.

Typically, stroke-inducing medication errors occur in one of two ways:

  • The wrong medication is prescribed or administered—A physician prescribes a medication to his or her patient that produces a harmful drug interaction, or, despite a proper prescription from the doctor, human error such as misreading the name on the script leads to the patient consuming the wrong medication. Another typical mistake that can lead to incorrect medication is a physician failing to take a detailed patient history, and accidentally prescribing a drug to which the patient is allergic.
  • The patient is provided with the wrong dosage—Most medications have a point at which they become toxic to patients. A patient instructed to take a drug thrice daily that he should take only once daily could accumulate toxic levels.

One example of a medication error leading to stroke involves the anticoagulant drug heparin. Heparin is typically given to patients following cardiac surgery in order to prevent blood clots. If the physician fails to prescribe the correct dose of heparin (or fails to provide it at all) and a blood clot occurs, the patient could suffer a stroke or pulmonary embolism as a result. In such a case, the physician could be found negligent and liable for damages.