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RX Medication Misuse Leads To High Death Toll

RX Medication Misuse Leads to High Death Toll

Medication Related DeathsThe drug epidemic in America is not limited to illegal narcotics use in urban sprawl or opioid overdoses in affluent homes. In an article called “Death by Prescription,” US News reports that at least 128,000 Americans die every year taking legally and regularly-prescribed pills because they fail to follow proper dosage instructions. That number is expected to further climb as Baby Boomers join the ranks en masse of bona fide senior citizens– the most-medicated demographic.

The Problem

According to the Mayo Clinic, 70 percent of Americans take at least one pill and 20 percent take five or more medications each day. All told, this means that Americans consume hundreds of millions of prescription and OTC pills each year in a bid to regain and/or maintain their health. Alarmingly, experts agree that nearly half fail to properly follow dosage instructions. And it isn’t always user error.Medication Use and Death

AARP explains, “It’s easy to make a mistake when taking medications, especially if you have multiple medical conditions to contend with. Often people will take the wrong dose or take a follow-up dose too soon after the first one. And sometimes the professionals make mistakes, too, such as a pharmacist dispensing medications in the wrong concentration. Unfortunately, these types of mistakes are on the rise, according to a study published in the journal, Clinical Toxicology.”

Medication Mismanagement Often Owed to Confusion
Medication mismanagement often owed to confusion.

Problems plague people who take multiple prescriptions, sometimes on alternating schedules and dosages at various times of the day. It’s enough to confuse anyone, let alone someone who is ill or fighting dementia. Several factors contribute to medication mismanagement:

  • Some users find it difficult to foot the bill for out-of-pocket costs and purposely try to take less medication than prescribed.
  • Many people fail to obtain timely refills due to concerns about possible side effects.
  • Elderly medication-users and/or people fighting dementia struggle to understand (or read, let alone follow) confusing instructions typed in small characters on a tiny label.
  • Family caretakers, stressed and stretched physically and emotionally, may unwittingly dole out the wrong pills at the wrong time.
  • Even professional caretakers rotating in and out of service can lose track of bottles and associated instructions.
  • Schedule interruptions due to health emergencies such as doctor visits and unplanned trips to urgent care and emergency rooms conspire to undue even careful prescription-planning.
  • Humans, as well as computers make errors.Human Error Medication Mismanagement

Whatever the source of the problem, the results of medication mismanagement can be deadly.

  1. 16-year-old boy was admitted to the hospital for what should have been a routine colonoscopy. While in the hospital, doctors prescribed the drug Septra to prevent the risk of infection. The computer program dispense meds was usually set to “milligrams.” This was meant to calculate how many much medicine should be given based on the patient’s weight. However, someone reset the program and the dispensing nurse didn’t catch the recalibration. When she typed in the dose, the computer multiplied the amount by the patient’s weight. The dose was equal to 38.5 pills – the largest single dose ever recorded. But, rather than question the machine, the nurse doled out the medication. As a result, the patient suffered a grand mal seizure, nearly dying. Luckily, he managed to survive.
    Medication Mismanagement First Responders
  2. Our own precious family members’ health conditions were severe and medication regimens were constantly in flux as we provided care for our grandmother who had suffered a broken neck, an AFib heart condition and painful arthritis; another family member who had metastatic breast cancer; and our 90-year-old grandfather who had a heart condition and Alzheimer’s. Frankly, we were overwhelmed. During the course of treatment, we witnessed several scary experiences. Most resulted from well-intentioned caregivers who consistently under-medicated our loved ones. This sent our family members back to the hospital time and again. In desperation, we worked to come up with a system to stop the madness. The end result is an elegant solution to dramatically reduce the risk of medication mismanagement – PillMapTM.

About PillMapPillMap is easy to use

Your daily medication guide, PillMapTM takes the guesswork out of medication management. It is easily customizable to fit patient and caregiver needs, including maintaining consistency and safety in hand-offs between multiple caregivers. We’ve poured our learning and our care into PillMap™. We want you to put your time and your attention to the one you love, instead of to pill bottles. Don’t take a chance with your loved one’s health. Order PillMapTM today.

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