Lack of Medication Adherence Can Cause Serious Medication Reactions and Injury

The Institute of Medicine, reports that every year, 1.5 million people are injured by medication-related events. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), that our Baltimore medication error injury attorneys have been following, a recent report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), found that the number of patients treated in hospitals across the country for illnesses and personal injuries from incorrectly taking medications like sedatives, blood thinners, corticosteroids and other drugs, increased over 50% from 2004 to 2008.

The report also found that over 800,000 U.S. patients were also treated in emergency rooms across the country in medication-related events, stemming from the incorrect usage of antibiotics, insulin, painkillers, and cardiovascular and other drugs. The WSJ looked at some of these individual drugs, to examine how they can cause personal harm or injury if taken incorrectly. According to the report:

• Antibiotics can cause an allergic reaction if taken incorrectly, and can also fail to properly fight infections. Also, when taking antibiotics, patients are generally cautioned to limit sun exposure, as it can cause extreme sunburns.
• Painkillers can cause breathings problems or even death if taken with alcohol or other sedatives or painkillers. OTC products that contain the ingredient acetaminophen can harm the liver if taken with a combination of opioid-acetaminophen drugs.
• Antidepressants and tranquilizers, if taken incorrectly, can lead to panic attacks and suicidal tendencies or actions.
• If taken erroneously, corticosteroids prescribed for asthma, arthritis, transplant patients, ulcerative colitis, and other conditions, can worsen other health conditions, like high blood pressure, blood sugar problems, ulcers, and diabetes, and can also lead to withdrawal if a patient stops taking them suddenly.
• Insulin, if not taken as prescribed, can both increase or reduce a patient’s blood-sugar levels, leading to shock and other health complications.
• If a patient fails to take blood thinners correctly, a high dose that is too high can cause bruising, excessive bleeding, whereas a dose that is too low can cause clotting. Effectiveness of the drug can also be threatened when interacting with other medications.
• Blood pressure drugs can also, if the medication is taken erroneously, cause a spike in blood pressure, and an overdose can cause chest pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, a fast or abnormally slow heartbeat, and can also cause coma.
• Cancer drugs, when taken in error, can cause fever, nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath, diarrhea, cause confusion and fatigue, and when an overdose is taken, can even cause death.

Officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have claimed that medication errors made by consumers who misunderstand prescription drug information are causing serious harm and injury.

Lebowitz and Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers represent victims of medication error in Baltimore and other Maryland cities. Contact our attorneys today.

NCL’s medication adherence campaign

‘Use Only as Directed’ Isn’t Easy, The Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2011
A National Campaign to Improve Poor Medication Adherence: America’s ‘Other’ Drug Problem, The National Consumer League: The Case for Improving Adherence

Related Web Resources:

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Institute for Safe Medication Practices, (ISMP)

Institute of Medicine (IOM)

U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Medication Error Reports

Related Blog Posts:

Another Child Receives Prescription Mix-up From Same Walgreens Pharmacy, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, February 23, 2011
A Pharmacy’s Guide to Medication Therapy Management, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, January 6, 2011
Keeping Accurate Health Records and Medication Lists Can Prevent Medical Errors, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, February 8, 2011

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