Research shows that medical error deaths are right behind heart disease and cancer.  With the emphasis on improving all of the elements of patient care, it has been determined that errors in the outpatient management of care often aren’t easily found.  For instance, prescriptions some 4 billion a year and rapidly growing, are a main contributor in the error process.

Aside from the risk of allergy with a new medication, medication errors are frequent and common.  Technology is used to crosscheck but it is far from perfect.  Dosage is critical and a slight mistake in creating the record makes a huge difference.

Within the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), the Division of Medication Error Prevention and Analysis (DMEPA) reviews medication error reports on marketed human drugs including prescription drugs, generic drugs, and over-the-counter drugs.  DMEPA uses the National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention (NCCMERP) definition of a medication error.  Specifically, a medication error is “any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient, or consumer.  Such events may be related to professional practice, health care products, procedures, and systems, including prescribing; order communication; product labeling, packaging, and nomenclature; compounding; dispensing; distribution; administration; education; monitoring; and use.”

Additionally, DMEPA prospectively reviews proprietary names, labeling, packaging, and product design prior to drug approval to help prevent medication errors.

DMEPA publishes recommendations on common areas of error, for instance, error-prone abbreviations – visit this page to review:“>


And the official DO NOT USE List of Abbreviations which may lead to confusion – see this page:


It’s also a good idea if you are a patient to check your prescription bottle when received against the medical information provided to you when you made a visit to the provider.