A new study reported in HealthDay exposes a potentially dangerous flaw in the way that many addictive medications are used throughout the country.
Doctors and other medical professionals are the ones charged with best understanding the effects of the medications that they prescribe to their patients. This expertise is intended to include both the potential positive effect the drug may have as well as the areas in which it could be dangerous. The forms of danger include negative side-effects, such as the potential for addiction to the medication. Unfortunately, many doctors are not tracking the use of these prescribed drugs.
The Journal of General Internal Medicine published this latest study that tracked opiate drugs-like oxycodone-that often lead to addiction and overdose. More than 1,600 records were examined on patients who took the drugs over a two year period. Unfortunately, the monitoring of those patients-particularly the ones identified as high risk for abuse and addiction-were rarely adequate.
The failure to properly monitor the drug use meant researchers discovered that very few patients received regular drug testing or regular prescription refills. Instead, on average the patients identified as high-risk sought refills earlier than those others.
One researcher explained: “We were disturbed to find that patients with a drug use disorder were seen less frequently in the office and were prescribed more early refills than patients without these disorders. We hope that these findings will call attention to this important safety concern.”
The result of these failures in our area likely means an increase in Illinois medication mistakes and other preventable problems.
Researchers recommend that doctors take a proactive, measured approach to prevent prescription drug addiction and abuse. These measures would include more face-to-face office visits, regular drug testing, and refill schedules only upon set intervals.
Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti believe that medical professionals should take these common sense measures to improve drug use and safety. Prescriptions drugs require medical oversight specifically because of the dangerous effects they may have. It is inappropriate for unknowledgeable patients to be given free-reign to use and potentially abuse drugs of whose strength they are not aware.
Be sure to contact an Illinois injury lawyer if you or someone you know has been injured because of the carelessness of another.
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