Drug errors originating from home see sharp increase

July 30, 2008

Contributing to the errors were wider use of painkillers and drug overdoses.

Fatal drug errors at home zoomed from 1,132 in 1983 to 12,426 in 2004. Contributing to the errors were wider use of painkillers, often mixed with alcohol or other drugs, and drug overdoses, as happened with the actor Heath Ledger, who died recently. These findings, extrapolated from an analysis of almost 50 million death certificates, was published in the July 28 Archives of Internal Medicine. Some industry insiders believe that one way to get around this problem is to require pharmacists to counsel patients about high-risk drugs and the dangers of drug interactions and overdoses and to pay them for doing so.

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