Prescription drugs kill 125,000 people per year

Prescription drugs kill 125,000 people per year

According to a report from the National Pharmaceutical Council, some 125,000 deaths each year in the United States can be attributed to the improper administration of prescription drugs. In addition, failure of patients to take the drugs properly accounts for 10% of all hospital admissions, 25% of hospital admissions among the elderly, and 23% of all nursing home admissions. The national cost of this widespread prescription misuse exceeds $77 billion a year.

Many members of the medical establishment -- which calls these tragedies "drug misadventures" -- is quick to place the blame on pharmacists in an attempt to absolve themselves. A recent research study pointed out that fully one-third of the surveyed pharmacists failed to catch a potentially fatal prescription error.

Yet, some medical experts admit that modern medical care is so rushed that doctors often do not exercise the caution needed when writing prescriptions. Instead of blaming pharmacists, they're looking for ways to have them shoulder more of the responsibility.

"In an age when physician visits are often limited to 10 or 15 minutes, pharmacists could play a valuable role in reinforcing instructions," noted an article in American Medical News.

SOURCES: "Pharmaceutical care touted as way to cut drug errors," by Sandra Lee Breisch, American Medical News, April 8, 1996.

"Drug-related morbidity and mortality: a cost-of-illness model," by Jeffrey A. Johnson and J. Lyle Bootman, Ph.D., Archives of Internal Medicine, Oct 9, 1995 v155 n18 p1949(8).

Article copyright The Chiropractic Journal.

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