Over the past decade, the U.S. has seen a dramatic increase in the number of deaths as a result of opioid use and abuse. Indeed, according to the most recent government statistics, over 35,000 people die each year as a result of opioid overdoses. Roughly half of these deaths are caused by prescription painkillers. These figures represent a nearly three-times increase over previous years.
The recent rash of opioid deaths has called into question the medical profession’s reliance on these drugs to treat pain. Notwithstanding the well-understood dangers of opioid use and abuse, opioid painkillers are still prescribed in record numbers each year. Not surprisingly, given the number of prescriptions filled each year, there are a significant number of pharmacy errors involving opioids.
Regardless of the type of medication involved, pharmacists have a duty to ensure that a patient’s prescription is filled accurately. This means not only making sure that the correct drug is provided to the patient, but also providing the proper dose and instructions. When pharmacists make an error involving a drug as dangerous as an opioid painkiller, there is a high likelihood that the patient could accidentally overdose.