Dangerous, Common Drug Interactions
December 29, 2017
Results from a new poll conducted by the University of Michigan Medical School are in and the data confirms that too few Americans are aware of common and dangerous drug interactions. Although older individuals in particular are more likely to take more than one prescription medication, only one-third say they discuss possible medication interactions, potential risks and side effects with their doctor(s).
Many medications can interact with one another, sometimes causing fatal complications in patients. Even for individuals taking six or more different prescription medications, researchers found that fewer than 50% discussed interactions with medical professionals. Many patients see more than one doctor or specialist for a variety of health problems; this increased number of prescribers can decrease the chances for open and clear communication about the risks and benefits of taking various medications at the same time.
Another issue that sometimes makes it more difficult for prescribers and pharmacists to know just how many medications – and what types they are – a patient is taking is when he or she picks up prescriptions from more than one pharmacy. In this case, a pharmacist may be unaware of what other medicines have been filled and where, which can limit his or her ability to give adequate warnings about possible drug interactions.
Regardless of whether or not a patient has more than one doctor or fills his or her prescriptions at more than one pharmacy, it remains the legal duty of both the prescribing doctor and the pharmacist to properly identify possible drug interactions as well as to comprehensively monitor for side effects. It isn’t difficult to prevent a dangerous drug interaction from occurring – but in order to ensure this and limit the number of injuries and deaths that happen, prescribing doctors and pharmacists need to adequately screen for potential complications.
For these reasons, researchers at University of Michigan’s Medical School and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) believe that individuals – especially those between the ages of 50 and 80-years-old – need to be particularly vigilant about disclosing every medication they take to their doctor(s) as well as their pharmacist(s). For people who take multiple medications, it can be difficult to keep track of what they are all as well as their generic or brand names. Keeping a record of any current medications will help nurses, doctors and pharmacists know what drugs are – and are not – safe to prescribe.
New medications are introduced all the time, and complications from medications that interact dangerously with one another can range from mild to severe. Prescribing medications that cause lethal symptoms when combined is one of the reasons that medical errors are the third-leading cause of death across the United States. Harvard Medical School says that individuals may be able to limit their risks by:
- Filling all prescriptions at the same pharmacy;
- Knowing the reason for taking each medication as well as how to take each one correctly (e.g. with food, at a certain time, etc.);
- Watching out for grapefruit juice, which can interact dangerously with several different medications;
- Having a discussion with the pharmacist about any questions or concerns about medications, side effects and potential interactions with other prescriptions, and:
- Observe guidelines for drinking alcohol and operating machinery
Even if a person suspects that their medications are interfering with one another or causing other health problems, it is important to talk with a doctor directly before discontinuing any prescribed medication. If you became ill, disabled or required medical treatment because a doctor or pharmacist failed to identify a medication reaction, please contact a representative at our firm so that we can help.
Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Represent Individuals Injured by Drug Interactions
If you became ill or injured due to a dangerous medication interaction or because your medication was unsafe, please contact our Philadelphia products liability lawyers at Galfand Berger. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.