Research from Johns Hopkins suggests that medical errors constitute the third most common cause of death in the United States. Prescription errors account for far too many of these deaths, with a few drugs, in particular, responsible for a shocking level of suffering. Several of the most dangerous prescription drugs are highlighted below:
If used properly, opioids can play an important role in pain management. Unfortunately, these drugs carry significant risks, including, most notably, the potential for abuse. Fentanyl, in particular, has seen skyrocketing abuse in recent years. In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control estimated that 29,406 Americans died due to overdoses involving the category of synthetic opioids dominated by fentanyl. While many of these deaths were related to illicitly obtained substances, many others involved prescribed medications.
Oxycodone (which is featured in such brand-name drugs as Oxycontin and Percocet) can, like fentanyl, provide pain relief to those who need it most. It can also easily be abused. The drug is particularly dangerous if mixed with alcohol or other substances. A recent study indicates that just one oxycodone tablet can significantly increase the risk of respiratory depression if taken with alcohol.
While some medical professionals peg methadone as a safer alternative to opioid painkillers, it carries considerable risks of its own. Experts at MDedge point to methadone’s variable dose-response relationship, which, over time, can prompt the same respiratory depression that those who take oxycodone may face. Because methadone takes time to kick in, the risk of accidental overdose may actually be greater.
While the anticoagulant warfarin has been successfully used to treat patients for several decades, a recent analysis conducted by ProPublica suggests that the drug is riskier than many people suspect. Nursing homes, in particular, are plagued by warfarin issues, with experts estimating that thousands of related hospitalizations and deaths go unreported every year.
Experts remain at odds regarding statins — a common type of cholesterol-lowering drug intended to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Authors of a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association worry that the medical community has not yet perfected guidelines for determining who should and shouldn’t be prescribed statins.
Better known as Xanax, alprazolam can, like many tranquilizers, be easily abused. It’s also dangerous in that it can prompt a variety of negative effects with long-term use, including mood swings and fatigue.
7. Anabolic Androgenic Steroids
Anabolic steroids have hit headlines for years due to the prevalence of their use (and abuse) in professional athletics. In the healthcare industry, they’re commonly prescribed for ailments that prompt muscle loss. While they do not have discernable short-term effects on the brain, they can have a long-term negative impact on mental health, with abusers often demonstrating paranoia and aggression. Long-term use could also lead to kidney failure, liver damage, high blood pressure, and an increased risk of blood clots.
Commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, methotrexate has caused alarm in the medical community due to its ties to melanoma and other malignancies. If taken too frequently, methotrexate can suppress bone marrow and increase the body’s susceptibility to infection. Taken just three days in a row, the drug can dramatically increase the risk of sepsis.
Sometimes abused by those not diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dextroamphetamine (better known by the brand name Adderall) can prompt high blood pressure, sleep disturbances, or irregular heartbeat with prolonged use. The FDA also notes a slight risk of mood swings or even psychosis.
Antibiotics can offer quick relief for a variety of ailments, but their use isn’t always necessary — and sometimes, it can be dangerous. Experts at the CDC believe that between one-third and one-half of antibiotic use is either unnecessary or inappropriate. This can lead to adverse side effects and may hasten the growing threat of antibiotic resistance.
If you believe improper prescriptions have caused you undue suffering, it’s time to take action. Call the Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC at (888) 424-5757 to learn more about your legal options.