Important Note: We're delighted to announce that the ArbiMed software has been acquired by Elevate Health Technologies and has added new executive leadership. Our dedicated team, which you know and trust, remains in place.
The ArbiMed software name has been changed to Pulse.
The Cost of Dispensing the Wrong Medication

The Cost of Dispensing the Wrong Medication

The Cost of Dispensing the Wrong Medication

As per the statistics, the frequency of incidents involving the incorrect medication dispensing is alarmingly high. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they receive a staggering 100,000 reports annually concerning such cases. These mistakes cost over $40 billion annually. The situation is scary enough to make a physician lose sleep.

Thankfully, it's possible to prevent these cases by implementing the right programs. In this case, choosing the right software is crucial, and Pulse is the best-rated all-in-one medical inventory system on the market.

Read on to learn about the statistics, primary causes, consequences, and cost of providing the incorrect medication, including how Pulse can help you.

Dispensing of Wrong Medication: What Is It?

Simply put, the definition of wrong medication refers to giving the incorrect medicine to a patient against the prescription. 

Every year, millions of Americans experience the consequences of the wrong medication being dispensed. If you are looking for a recent incident, read the story of Rosezena Jackson (74). She had to be admitted to the intensive care unit because her rehab facility gave her someone else's pills.  

Some women have been given a vaccine or flu shot when they were supposed to get a routine birth control shot.

If such a mistake resulted in the patient's death, it could lead to jail time and a hefty fine. However, no nurse or doctor knowingly gives the wrong medicine to their patients. These errors happen for multiple reasons, such as gross negligence, failing to recognize the interactions between particular drugs, or dispensing the incorrect medication or dosage by mistake.

Annual Statistics of Dispensing the Wrong Medication

Let’s have a look at some statistics on dispensing the wrong medication.

  • According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), more than 100,000 reports are received annually of the wrong medication being dispensed.
  • Around 41% of adults have suffered as a result of medical errors.
  • Between 7,000 to 9,000 people in the U.S. die each year due to medication errors.
  • From 30% to 70% of wrong medication dispensing issues occur due to human error in capturing the medicine orders from the prescriptions.
  • A study at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex showed that 1.2% of medication dispensed at the in-patient pharmacy had errors, 2.6% in the adult outpatient pharmacy, and 2.3% in the pediatric pharmacy.

The following table chart shows the statistics of wrong medication dispensing according to different types:

Dispensing ErrorsRate (%)Wrong dose30.76Wrong quantity15.38Wrong drugs11.54Inappropriate combination of shots3.85Miscellaneous3.85

The Main Causes of Dispensing the Wrong Medication

Here are a few primary causes for dispensing the wrong medication. Medical Practitioners should be mindful of these mistakes:

Illegible Handwriting of Doctors

It's probably the most common reason behind this issue. Nurses or pharmacists sometimes confuse the drug's name or doses due to illegible writing of the physicians. Doctors are now highly encouraged to use digital notes and prescriptions.

Incorrect Information Input

Sometimes, the person in charge of storing patients' healthcare data accidentally inputs wrong information. This negligence can result in prescribing the wrong drugs.

Stress and Distraction

Stress and distraction account for more than 75% of clinic and hospital drug dispensing errors. A physician has multiple responsibilities, such as ordering labs, communicating with consultants and patients' families, examining patients, etc.

When they're asked to administer  prescriptions amid the chaotic schedule, it's only natural to make the occasional mistake. This can happen even to the best doctors, who have to face the consequences of this mistake.


Generally, common distortions are poor handwriting, using abbreviations, improper symbols, and incorrect translations. Many American healthcare providers are foreigners and prescribe medications that are primarily unavailable domestically.

When a practitioner can't recognize the drug, the physician asks the pharmacist to provide an alternative medicine. It can result in wrong medication dispensing.

Consequences of Wrong Medication to Patients

Wrong medication can affect the life quality and overall health of a patient. It can lead to severe side effects, hospitalization, or even fatalities. Shockingly, more than 7,000 people in the United States lose their lives each year due to medication errors.

Healthcare professionals have to suffer legal repercussions if their medication errors become life-threatening for the patients. They can lose their medical licenses or get charged a hefty fine.

However, it takes work to determine what or who caused harm to the patient's health, as many procedures are involved. Still, physicians must remain careful while prescribing medication.

Cost of Dispensing the Wrong Medication

Each year, the U.S. spends billions of dollars on cases of dispensing the wrong medication. Here is the cost impact:

  • The U.S. pays over $40 billion annually to more than 7 million patients affected by wrong medicines.
  • Preventable wrong medication cases cost the United States over $21 billion annually across all caregiving institutions.
  • The global costs associated with providing incorrect drug issues are estimated at $42 billion annually or about 1% of total global health expenditure.

How Can Pulse Help You Avoid Dispensing the Wrong Medication?

Pulse is the best-rated cloud-based all-in-one medical inventory management system in the market. This platform helps medical offices to offer better and more precise patient care.

Our organization recognizes the gravity of this issue and offers comprehensive solutions to mitigate the risks of medication errors. Our advanced software utilizes state-of-the-art technology to improve medication ordering accuracy, simplify inventory management, and minimize the potential for errors.

Our system can help you record,store and track the medication dispensed to a patient historically. This way, you can immediately check what medication has been dispensed to a specific patient. In addition, Pulse can also track administered injections and doses This module also provides prompts that ask for confirmation from the user if they want to dispense the new medication rather than previously dispensed medication. By partnering with us, you can rest assured that your organization is taking proactive measures to improve patient safety and the quality of the care you offer. 

Please contact us if you want to learn more about our innovative solutions and how we can assist your organization. We would love you to test our software with a free demo to understand whether it suits your needs. 


Dispensing the wrong medication can have severe consequences for patients. Sadly, these types of errors occur daily. Implementing effective strategies for managing medical inventory is crucial to minimize the risk of medication errors and safeguard patient health.

By adopting Pulse's medical inventory management system, you can ensure that patients receive the proper medication in the correct doses. To learn more about how our platform can benefit your healthcare organization, sign up today and speak with one of our knowledgeable representatives.


Why Work
With Us?

Working with ElevateHT means your clinical practice gains a trusted ally specialized in healthcare, uniquely dedicated to optimizing medical inventory and drug management. Our innovative solution, Pulse, transforms inventory and in-office drug dispensing into actionable insights, making management effortless and decision-making precise. By streamlining these crucial processes, we free up your valuable time and resources, allowing you to focus on what truly matters—delivering exceptional patient care.