Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Research Shows Deadly Drug Mistakes Spike At The Start Of Each Month, Suggests Pharmacy Errors

06.01.2005


Beware not the ides but the start of March – and April and May and every month. In the first few days of each month, fatalities due to medication errors rise by as much as 25 percent above normal, according to new research by University of California, San Diego sociologist David Phillips.


Total numbers of U.S. deaths related to medication errors (± 1.96 standard errors) on each of the first 14 days of the month (days 1 to 14) and the last 14 days of the preceding month (days -14 to -1), 1979-2000. The panel shows data for patients who were dead on arrival and for those who died in the emergency room and as outpatients. The horizontal solid line shows total numbers of deaths from all causes. The dotted line indicates the average number of deaths that would be expected if the numbers did not fluctuate around the first day of the month. The bar graph indicates the total number of deaths from fatal medication errors. The upper limit is set at 1.40 x daily average, whereas the lower limit is set at 0.85 x daily average.



Published in the January issue of Pharmacotherapy, the journal of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy, the study is the first to document a beginning-of-the-month spike in deaths attributed to mistakes in prescription drugs.

The primary suspect, Phillips says, is a beginning-of-the-month increase in pharmacy workloads and a consequent increase in their error rates. “Government assistance payments to the old, the sick and the poor are typically received at the beginning of each month. Because of this, there is a beginning-of-the-month spike in purchases of prescription medicines,” Phillips says. “Pharmacy workloads go up and – in line with both evidence and experience – error rates go up as well. Our data suggest that the mortality spike occurs at least partly because of this phenomenon.”


Phillips and his coauthors examined all United States death certificates from 1979 through 2000 to analyze the 131,952 deaths classified as fatal poisoning accidents from drugs. A small number, 3.2 percent, of the deaths were from adverse effects of the right drug in the right dose. The vast majority, 96.8 percent, resulted from medication errors – the “wrong drug given or taken,” or “accidental overdose of drug,” or “drug taken inadvertently.”

The study excluded deaths from overdose of street drugs or from intentional poisoning (suicide or homicide).

The beginning-of-the-month mortality spike was particularly pronounced in people for whom the mistakes proved rapidly fatal – those who were dead on arrival at a hospital, died in the emergency department or as outpatients. In this category, deaths jumped by 25 percent above normal.

But could it be that the mortality spike is due not to pharmacy error but simply to the increased number of people buying, then consuming drugs?

To test this, Phillips and coauthors ran analyses on populations of the elderly and the poor. If increased consumption alone was to blame, the researchers reasoned, mortality would be highest in the groups relying on government assistance and therefore purchasing their medicines at the start of the month.

The beginning-of-the-month spike was similar across groups, however. The spike was as evident in the young and well-off as in the elderly and poor, suggesting the problem was at least partly due to an increase in pharmacy error at the beginning of the month.

Phillips notes that the National Center for Health Statistics database used in the study did not contain highly specific clinical information – no information on prescription type, dosage, days supply, etc. – and he urges further research with data richer in this kind of detail.

To reduce the medication-error death rate, Phillips suggests that pharmacies (that don’t already do so) consider increasing staffing levels at the beginning of the month and that government officials consider spreading assistance payments out over the entire month.

“Even in the absence of policy changes or further research,” Phillips says, “it is appropriate for both patients and clinical staff to be especially careful to check the accuracy of their prescriptions at the beginning of each month. If this is done, it seems plausible that some lives will be saved.”

Phillips’ coauthors are Jason R. Jarvinen, sociology student, UCSD, and Rosalie Phillips, executive director of the Tufts Health Care Center, Tufts University

Inga Kiderra | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucsd.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Hot cars can hit deadly temperatures in as little as one hour
24.05.2018 | Arizona State University

nachricht 3D images of cancer cells in the body: Medical physicists from Halle present new method
16.05.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

When corals eat plastics

24.05.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Surgery involving ultrasound energy found to treat high blood pressure

24.05.2018 | Medical Engineering

First chip-scale broadband optical system that can sense molecules in the mid-IR

24.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>