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What Doctors Don't Tell You

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November 2018 (Vol. 3 Issue 9)

Someone takes a drug wrongly every 21 seconds (that's 10.5 million times a year in the US alone)
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

Someone takes a drug wrongly every 21 seconds (that's 10.5 million times a year in the US alone) image

Pharmaceuticals are dangerous enough as it is—but when they're taken incorrectly, they can be lethal. It's a common problem, with someone in the US reporting a serious medication error every 21 seconds, and that's 10.5 million cases a year.

These are errors that happen in the home, and a third of these end up in hospital—and some of these don't survive—according to research into the records at Poison Control, a nationwide monitoring system.

Serious medication errors have doubled in the 12 years to 2012, and drug companies must take some of the blame for not making product packaging and labelling clearer, researchers say.

The most common errors involved taking the wrong medication, or having an incorrect dose, or using the medication twice at the same time. Children are also likely to be victims as they take their parents' medications.

The drugs that were most likely to cause a serious reaction were heart drugs and painkillers, which were responsible for more than two-thirds of all the deaths.

"Drug manufacturers and pharmacists have a role to play when it comes to reducing medication errors. There is room for improvement in product packaging and labelling. Dosing instructions could be made clearer, especially for patients and caregivers with limited literacy or numeracy," said researcher Henry Spiller, at the Nationwide Children's Hospital.


References

(Source: Clinical Toxicology, 2017; 1, doi: 10.1080/15563650.2017.1337908)

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