As Colorado residents may know, medication errors may result in serious consequences when a mistake is made in either the prescription or lack of information concerning interactions. Patients who take medication may protect themselves by becoming familiar with the medicines they are taking.
Colorado football fans might remember a little more than two years ago when former linebacker and 12-time NFL Pro Bowl selection Junior Seau committed suicide. At the time of his death, it was reported that he had been using the prescription sleep aid Ambien. Reports now confirm that Ambien was found in his home when he died and that it had been prescribed by the former San Diego Chargers team physician.
Colorado residents will soon find it easier to research medications and the problems associated with them. The Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, have announced a new initiative called openFDA that is intended to make the agency's database of injuries and complications related to medication easier for the public to access. The agency is also creating an application that will allow software developers to build programs while making use of the government data.
Prescription sleeping aids provide short-term relief, but they may be dangerous in the long run. People in Colorado who take them may want to take not of one woman's story of how she lost her father. The man lost his life while taking the sleep-aid Zolpidem, which caused him to sleep walk and in turn sleep drive. One night, after taking his nightly dose, the elderly man got into his car and drove seven miles, until he crashed into a tree; the car burst then into flames, killing him. Driving, walking and eating while asleep are side effects that some users report when taking sleeping aids. The actions taken under the influence of a sleeping pill are potentially harmful to both the user and to others.
Colorado residents may be surprised to learn just how common medication errors are, some of which can even be fatal. Something as small as a doctor moving the decimal point can lead to a deadly medication error. For this reason, hospitals have set up systems that check and double check medication orders, but according to statistics, they still happen all too frequently. Approximately one million medication errors occur annually, leading to 7,000 deaths. This means there is about one medication mistake made for every inpatient.
Because medical providers see a large amount of patients within a short amount of time, the likelihood of prescription medication errors is more common than most Colorado residents might think. In addition, the doctor does not write many prescriptions; instead, they are often called in to pharmacies or entered via computer. Over 98,000 deaths in the United States are associated with medical errors, including medication errors, annually, according to NewsOne New York.
Pharmacists are among the most trusted professionals in the nation, but sometimes a prescription is filled incorrectly with the wrong dose or medication. A diabetes patient was recently given a 1.25 level instead of the prescribed 1.50. As a result, the person's blood sugar began creeping up. When the medication was returned to the drugstore, it was confirmed as the wrong prescription.
Most people trust their physicians and pharmacists and, for the most part, with good reason. A large number of Colorado medical professionals are diligent, trustworthy and go the extra mile to ensure exemplary patient care. However, even among the most conscientious medical providers, mistakes happen. Medication errors are often undetected unless the dosage or wrong medicine causes physical symptoms that may be damaging or deadly.
When drugs are in short supply in Colorado, it can lead to patients receiving incorrect dosages of prescribed medications. One example of this is when a healthcare organization discovered that the hospitals it controlled were running short of potassium acetate in 2 mEq/mL dosages. To make up for the shortfall, the group began ordering potassium acetate in larger dosages. When the new medication was entered into the organization's database, it was not marked as having a different dosage, leading to hospital workers administering the wrong amount of medication to patients.
Millions of hospitalized Americans every year receive short term anticoagulant or antiplatelet treatments to stabilize acute coronary syndromes and prevent embolisms that might otherwise result in heart attacks, stroke or death. New research is demonstrating, however, that blood thinners like heparin and coumadin are often administered incorrectly. According to a study that appears in the May issue of "The Annals of Pharmacotherapy," medication errors involving blood thinners account for fully seven percent of all medication errors in clinical settings.