Methadone Overdose a Common Type of Medication Error

Our Illinois medical malpractice attorneys know that literally millions of patients are victims of medication errors across the nation each year. From minor problems to deadly overdoses, our medication error lawyers have worked with many of these victims. It should be common sense that the utmost care should always be use by medical professionals when it comes to prescribing and administering medications. However, time and again major mistakes are made, and the consequences can be extreme. Recently the Times News reported on one particularly deadly drug that has been indicated as causing the death of a growing number of individuals: methadone. A methadone overdose is common because even a therapeutic dose for one person can be deadly for another. There is little room for error. For example, a healthy 17-year old high school football player was killed when he accidentally took methadone prescribed to his grandmother for her fibromyalgia. The woman was supposed to take only two pills every four hours, and experts explain that even that prescribed dosage may have been enough to kill the healthy young man. One doctor explained that someone who has been taking the drug for awhile is generally able to handle larger doses, which a first time user may die from the same dose. The case of the young football player was complicated by the fact that the young man had little body fat to absorb the drug. He is suspected of having taken it in an effort to relieve some of the pain caused from his football playing. Sadly methadone overdoses remain common-both at home and as a form of hospital medication error. Methadone has been around for the last fifty years, and was initially used to treat people who were addicted to heroin and other opioids. However, in the last twenty years doctors have begun prescribing it to patients for general chronic pain management. As of late it has gained favor in the medical community; it is now prescribed more than drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone. Recent statistics show than methadone, oxycodone, and similar painkillers are the most common form of unintentional poisoning death in the country. As one doctor explained, "this is a public health epidemic in the nation…and it's very unfortunate." Those seeking to curb the problem say they are focusing on the doctors who prescribe the medication. All those prescribed this drug need to be aware of the dangers an risk for error. Also, medical professionals who use the medication must triple check their work to ensure that mistakes are not made.

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