In May, health care industry insiders and outsiders alike were stunned. A report announced medical errors are the third leading cause of death.

Me? I’m not stunned. Forgive me, but this is not news. We’re coming up on 17 years since the release of To Err is Human, the Institute of Medicine’s damning report on patient safety, and we still see similar headlines every few years. The fault lies with our uncoordinated system of care, with medications being the least coordinated of all.

Medication-related errors are a top preventable cause of serious adverse health events (including deaths). The problem is far more nuanced and systemic than misunderstanding labeling or patient “non-adherence.” Failure to treat conditions and appropriately dose medications, coupled with inadequate counseling, can be deadly.
Lack of a systematic and coordinated approach to medications has contributed to this crisis; the solution lies with the professionals who are experts in medications–pharmacists.

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Terry McInnis, MD, MPH, CPE, FACOEM
President, Blue Thorn Inc.