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Common Medication Errors Reported to the FDA

Woman reading pill bottleUnder its Medwatch program, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration tracks instances where consumers have, for a variety of reasons, received the wrong pharmaceutical product. Over the last 15 years, the FDA has received nearly 100,000 reports from consumers who have been given the wrong drug. FDA officials express concern, though, that the numbers understate the problem, as all medication errors are reported on a voluntary basis.

FDA representatives say that pharmaceutical errors occur for a number of reasons:

  • The handwriting on a prescription form may be illegible
  • The prescribing doctor may have prescribed the wrong drug or an incorrect dosage
  • The pharmacist may confuse drugs with similar names
  • There may be confusion with how doses are determined (metric vs. standard)
  • The packaging may be misleading

Some of the most common medication errors reported to the FDA include:

  • Methadone overdoses—Though methadone was originally used exclusively to treat substance abuse, it is now being prescribed as pain medicine. The methadone stays in the body long after it stops alleviating pain, so users may be inclined to take more methadone when pain subsides, but can be at risk of an overdose.
  • Cold and cough medicine overdoses, especially in children—The FDA reports that thousands of children are treated in hospitals every year for taking too much over-the-counter cough and cold medicine. In most instances, the children took the medication without their parents’ knowledge.
  • Acetaminophen overdose—The active ingredient in Tylenol and Datril, as well as many sleep aids and cough/cold medications, acetaminophen can cause serious liver damage if used too much.

Contact Aronberg, Kouser, Snyder & Lindemann, P. A., Attorneys at Law

At Aronberg, Kouser, Snyder & Lindemann, P. A., we have more than 35 years of experience helping people in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Contact us by e-mail or call our office at 856-429-1700. Your initial consultation is free.

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