Be On Guard for Medication-Related Injuries

Yesterday’s online edition of The New York Times reported on the frightening rise of medication-related injuries. Between 2004 and 2008, the number of people treated in hospitals for medication errors rocketed up by 50%, from 1.2 million to 1.9 million individuals.

People were hospitalized because of worrisome side effects after taking the medication as prescribed, or because they took the wrong dose, or because their doctors prescribed the wrong medication or dose. So, some problems were due to consumer error is how they took the medication, and some problems were due to physician prescribing error or pharmacy dispensing error.

Some drugs were more likely to cause hospitalizations than others. According to the article:

…the most common medications to cause side effects or injuries were corticosteroids. The drugs typically are used to treat asthma, ulcerative colitis or arthritis.

Other drugs that resulted in the highest number of patients admitted to the hospital were pain relievers, blood thinners, cancer drugs and heart and blood pressure medicines.

The solutions won’t be quick or easy. Obviously, better communications between doctors and patients might help patients learn how to take medications properly. In addition, a report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) calls for electronic prescriptions (which fixes the problem of having to read a doctor’s sloppy handwriting), and better labeling and packaging.

In addition, the AHRQ offers 20 tips for patients to help prevent medical errors. To read this great resource, click here: Patient fact sheet on medical errors

To read the full article in The New York Times, click here: Medication-Related Injuries

In our practice, we’ve seen a rise in drug-related injuries, as well. Sometimes, these injuries are severe. In fact, medical errors are one of the leading causes of death and injury in the United States. If you were injured after taking a medication, feel free to give us a call to explore your legal options. Someone is always available: 1-800-4LAW-MED. You can also find more information on the HensonFuerst website at  If you have questions, HensonFuerst has answers.

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