A News Release by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 17, 2017, states the fact that, “Medication errors cause at least one death every day and injure approximately 1.3 million people annually in the United States of America alone.” Their press release announces an initiative to reduce that number by half within the next five years.
Although the release notes that many countries do not keep good records on drug errors, the WHO estimates that worldwide the cost of medication errors is $4.2 billion, equal to about one percent of the world’s total expenditures on healthcare. According to the WHO release, “The Global Patient Safety Challenge on Medication Safety aims to address the weaknesses in health systems that lead to medication errors and the severe harm that results.”
Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General stated, “Apart from the human cost, medication errors place an enormous and unnecessary strain on health budgets. Preventing errors saves money and saves lives.” Dr. Chan continued, “Most harm arises from systems failures in the way care is organized and coordinated, especially when multiple health providers are involved in a patient’s care. Any one of these, or a combination, can affect the prescribing, dispensing, consumption, and monitoring of medications, which can result in severe harm, disability and even death.”
In the WHO release, Liam Donaldson, WHO’s envoy for Patient Safety, stated, “Over the years, I have spoken to many people who have lost loved ones to medication-related errors and their stories, their quiet dignity and their acceptance of situations that should never have arisen have moved me deeply.” He continued, “It is to the memories of all those who have died due to incidents of unsafe care that this Challenge should be dedicated. There is a need for an organizational culture that routinely implements best practices and that avoids blame when mistakes are made.”
Dr George Curry, president of the International Chiropractor Association commented on this issue by saying, “While every healthcare professional should applaud the effort to reduce medication errors that lead to harm, the discussion should also address ways to reduce the over utilization of medications in the population.” Curry continued, “One sure way to reduce the incidence of medical errors is to look to other forms of care that do not involve medications. Chiropractic has always represented an alternative to the medication approach for many millions of people.”
Dr. Robert Braile, chiropractor and author makes the point, “I guess a half reduction in the number of deaths and injuries would be considered by some as progress. But even if the WHO initiative is successful, that would mean that the WHO has a goal of only one death every other day and 650,000 injuries each year. Why is this level of carnage acceptable from a healthcare delivery systems that touts the mantra, ‘First do no harm?'”