Report Warns Consumers to Take Precautions With Drug Labels and Instructions

In a previous Baltimore medication error injury blog post, our attorneys discussed a recent investigation by Consumer Reports Health that found evidence of inconsistency among prescription drug labels for warfarin, a blood thinner. The report found that important safety warnings and medication guides that are required by the federal government in order to prevent medication errors, were often omitted or left out of patient’s warfarin prescriptions.

As our Maryland pharmacy mistake lawyer blog has reported previously, every year, according to research by the Institute of Medicine, there are 1.5 million preventable medication error injuries, one third of which take place outside of hospitals, where consumers must make their own decisions about following medication instructions. Consumer Reports Health suggests that these medication errors happen because consumers are confused by the material that is included with prescriptions, and that they rely heavily on the medication bottle label—a problem if there are omissions or inconsistencies with the drug label.

The report found the following discrepancies:

• Four out of five pharmacies neglected to provide the medication guides that are required by the FDA for certain drugs, including warfarin.
• All of the pharmacies provided their own materials for the patients, but these conflicted with the guides for warfarin approved by the FDA. The FDA recommended that patients abstain from alcohol while taking the drug, while two pharmacies warned patients that they should just limit or avoid alcohol usage.

The report recommended that consumers should protect themselves by taking the following precautions when starting a new medicine—to avoid medication error or patient injury.

• Understand your medication basics: always talk to your physician about how much medication you should take, how often, and when. Also discuss the medication with your pharmacist when picking up the drug.
• Talk to your physician and pharmacist about food, supplements, medication and vitamins that should be avoided while taking the prescribed medication. Ask about what should be avoided in terms of food, beverages and alcohol.
• Ask about all possible medication side effects that could result in taking the drug.

• Discuss when you can stop taking the medication with your physician, as you might be able to stop taking a medication when you feel better, depending on the drug.

In Howard County, Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, Talbot County, and other counties in the state of Maryland, contact our Maryland pharmacy error injury attorneys at Lebowitz and Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation.

Consumer Reports Health: Key Drug Warnings Falling Through the Cracks, PR Newswire, June 28, 2011

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:

FDA Tips for Administering OTC Medication to Children—to Reduce Medication Error Injury, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, June 6, 2011
FDA Redesigns Pharmacy Packet Inserts to Avoid Medication Error Injury, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, May 9, 2011
Keeping Accurate Health Records and Medication Lists Can Prevent Medical Errors, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, February 8, 2011
Study Finds Small Doses of Drugs From Syringes Could Cause Medication Error in Children, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, February 4, 2011
A Pharmacy’s Guide to Medication Therapy Management, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, January 6, 2011

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