Cherry Hill Medical Malpractice Lawyers: Elderly Patients Mis-Prescribed Drugs

A startling trend in medical malpractice has been diagnosed in a recent study published by The Journal of General Internal Medicine. The study reveals medical malpractice and physician negligence in the U.S. involving doctors making medication errors by prescribing unsafe prescription drugs to elderly patients is steadily growing. The research shows that one in five older Americans on Medicare are prescribed pharmaceuticals that are potentially harmful because of the severe effects caused by the medications. One especially interesting aspect of the study is the comparatively large occurrence of such prescriptions in the southern region of the U.S. In fact, older southerners from Texas to South Carolina are at a 12% greater risk to be prescribed dangerous pharmaceuticals than those living in New England. 

Although the precise cause cannot be pinpointed, the prevalence of harmful prescriptions in the South could be attributed to several factors. The researchers hypothesize education, socioeconomic status, and access to medical care to be the prime driving factors of the higher rates in the south. Furthermore, a correlation exists that the lower the socioeconomic position, the higher the risk is for receiving more harmful drugs and medication errors.

Popularly Prescribed Drugs Reveal Dangerous Side Effects

The research published in The Journal of General Internal Medicine refers to over 110 drugs that doctors should avoid prescribing to elderly patients to prevent medical malpractice from occurring. Many of these drugs are popularly prescribed, and although younger patients experience milder side effects, the risk is much greater for older patients. In fact, the list includes common pharmaceuticals like Valium. Valium belongs to the drug class benzodiazepine, which is difficult for older patients to metabolize, and therefore the drug takes longer to leave their systems. This can lead to longer periods of sedation, as well as a more dangerous risk of a deadly fall or broken bone. Other types of common medications that produce similar side effects are muscle relaxants and those used to treat diabetes.

Researchers believe that the negative side effects of these drugs outweigh the benefits. As a result, they advocate that the number of prescriptions for potentially harmful drugs be greatly reduced. The research consisted of an experimental group of more than six million older men and women nationwide. The study found that 1.3 million of those participating, about one in five, had been prescribed one or more of these dangerous medications in 2009. Astoundingly, most of the drugs prescribed have a known safer substitute which highlights the magnitude of this type of medical malpractice and potential medication error. The city that experienced the highest rate of harmful prescriptions was Albany, Georgia with almost 40% of seniors on Medicare administered a dangerous pharmaceutical prescription.

Medical Malpractice Involving Harmful Interactions between Multiple Prescriptions

Polypharmacy, the consumption of multiple prescription drugs at once, is another rising problem amongst the elderly. The average individual today over the age of 65 takes at least four prescription medications. This practice of combining multiple medications can lead to dangerous interactions and serious side effects. Consequently, this type of medical malpractice and physician negligence across the nation has attributed to nearly one-third of all hospitalizations and many incidents of hospital negligence. It is of the utmost importance that both doctors and patients be aware of black-listed drugs and their potential harm. Patients should be informed of what specific medications do to their body and regularly meet and review with their physicians regarding their prescriptions.

Get Legal Help for Victims Impacted by Medical Malpractice in New Jersey: Contact Cherry Hill NJ Medical Malpractice Lawyer, David Cuneo

Medical malpractice is a serious issue that requires immediate attention from experienced medical malpractice attorneys. Cherry Hill medical malpractice lawyer, David Cuneo, provide legal representation in medical malpractice andpersonal injury litigation matters throughout New Jersey. She is well-versed in handling physician negligence, hospital negligence and medication error cases. If you or a loved one has been affected by medical malpractice, call 856-869-9066 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation.