Last month, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality released a report indicating that the number of hospitalizations from medication side effects increased by more than half between 2004 and 2008. Antibiotics, anti-cancer drugs, benzodiazepines, corticosteroids, insulin and blood thinners attributed to more than 2.7 million hospital stays and emergency room trips in 2008.
In addition, opiates such as codeine and morphine caused 121,200 hospital stays and 44,300 emergency room visits in 2008. Mistakes by doctors and side effects from prescribed medicine attributed to the numbers, with doctor mistakes causing fewer than 10 percent of the hospitalizations and less than 25 percent of the emergency room visits.
One physician said doctors have to be more aware of adverse effects of the medications they prescribe. A stronger relationship with patients will also help patients be more aware of adverse effects, and what to do if they should occur, added the doctor. Another physician said fragmented care could lead to an overlapping of drugs. One patient can see different doctors and one doctor is unaware of what the other is doing, he added.
Others say that more physician education on prescribing opioids will decrease injuries from medications. The White House plans a national campaign about prescription drug abuse – telling patients how to dispose of medications in a safe manner.
Contact a Washington, D.C. medical malpractice lawyer if you suffer injuries from your medication or from health worker negligence.