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Some Reasons Why Patients Are Given Wrong Medications

David W. Hodges
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Partner at Kennedy Hodges LLP practicing pharmacy error, medical malpractice and personal injury law
Posted on May 07, 2013

According to public health researchers at Brown University, one in five seniors on a Medicare Advantage plan is prescribed high-risk medications. Additionally, researchers found that those in the South are more likely to receive these types of medications than those living in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

The study looked at six million seniors and found that patients in New England were the safest, as patients in this area were least likely to receive a high-risk medication. Furthermore, senior patients in Albany, Georgia; Mason City, Iowa; and Alexandria, Louisiana were found to be receiving more potentially harmful medications. Additionally, the study indicated that those who lived in the East South Central, West South Central, and South Atlantic parts of the country were more likely to receive high-risk medications.

The study indicated that the difference in medications could be a cultural difference between the North and the South; however, all patients should be aware of the medications they are being prescribed in order to limit taking potentially harmful medications.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received approximately 30,000 reports of patients receiving wrong medication since 1992, and it reports that there are many parties at fault including pharmacists, doctors, and patients themselves.  The FDA has indicated that some reasons why patients are given the wrong medications are due to the following:

  • Drugs not properly classified by drug manufactures
  • Drug labeling errors
  • Confusion over the correct name of the drug on the part of physicians, pharmacists, and patients

Because of the potential for harmful medication errors, the FDA encourages all patients to learn as much about the medication being prescribed. This includes asking the doctor for the brand-name and generic name of the drug, conducting research about the drug, verifying the label at the pharmacy for accuracy, and asking the pharmacist if something doesn’t look right. Patients can never be too careful with their health.

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