Jump to Navigation

Ohio Sees Record Number of Deaths From Accidental Overdoses

Each year more than 20,000 people in the United States die from accidental drug overdoses. In 2002, drug overdoses became the second leading cause for unintentional death nationally, second only to motor vehicle accidents.

In 2007, deaths in Ohio resulting from accidental overdose passed motor vehicle accidents. According to the Ohio Department of Health, over 1,500 people in Ohio died from unintentional drug overdoses, surpassing fatal car accidents by almost 500.

Those between 35 and 44 are most susceptible to accidental overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Opioid drugs including OxyContin and methadone, often used for pain management, are most often responsible.

This public health issue can be the result of many factors, including:

  • Wrong medication prescribed by the physician
  • Provision of two medications that should not be taken together without giving patient proper warnings by pharmacist
  • Failure to provide medication or wrong administration of medication by medical staff

These medication errors can lead to a wide range of injuries, varying in severity from relatively minor to fatal.

Common Medication Errors and Their Causes

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a medication error is "any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient or consumer."

In hospitals, mistakes can occur at every step. Mistakes can be made determining which drug to use, dispensing and administering it and monitoring how it affects the patient.

Since medications are widely used throughout the nation, the odds of a medication error are high. In fact, The Institute of Medicine reports that during any given week four out of five U.S. adults use prescription medications, over the counter drugs or dietary supplements. Of this group nearly one-third will take at least five different medications. In addition, the report found that the average hospital patient will likely be subjected to more than one medication error every day.

Using this information, the study estimated a minimum of 1.5 million preventable adverse drug events (ADE) occur in the U.S. every year. The most common fatal medication error between 1993 and 1998 involved administration of an improper dose of medication. This type of mistake accounted for 41 percent of medication errors that resulted in death of the patient. Mistakes that fall within this category include not properly flushing an IV line prior to administering a drug or incorrectly beginning the administration system.

The second most common mistake involved prescribing or using the wrong drug. This error accounted for an additional 16 percent of those on record. The third mistake involved administering the drug in the wrong manner. This would include providing a medication intravenously instead of subcutaneously. This error also accounted for 16 percent of recorded medical mistakes.

Both of these errors generally resulted from a failure of the physician, nurse, pharmacist or other medical professional to act in accordance with training, a failure to follow proper procedure or inaccurate review of records.

Liability in Prescription Drug Injury Cases

Determining liability in a prescription drug injury case is difficult. The manufacturer, physician, pharmacist, nurses and other medical staff can all play a roll.

The manufacture, for example, has a duty to warn about any dangers or side effects associated with use of the medication. If a patient is not made aware of a known risk within the literature that accompanies a medication, the manufacturer will likely be held liable for any resulting injuries.

Often, the duty to warn of various complications is passed from the manufacturer to the prescribing physician. In this situation, the doctor is referred to as a "learned intermediary" and serves as a type of middle man between the manufacturer of the drug and the patient. As a result, the physician assumes the role of warning the patient of any potential side effects. If these warnings are not properly given, the physician may be held liable.

Additionally, doctors are held to a duty to provide a certain standard of care to their patients. When physicians act outside of the generally accepted standards of practice within their field, they are likely liable for malpractice. Wrongly prescribing or administering a medication may fall within this area of liability.

The hospitals themselves can also be liable if the provided care was improper or if the physicians or other medical staff members were inadequately trained. If established, the hospital itself may be liable for a patient's injuries.

Navigating through a medical malpractice claim is difficult and requires review of many different layers of involvement. From manufacturers to physicians and hospitals to medical staff, determining who may be liable for injuries requires an extensive investigation.

If you or a loved one is injured by a medication error, compensation is available to cover medical and rehabilitative expenses as well as pain and suffering. To determine the best legal path for your unique situation, it is important to meet with an experienced medication error lawyer to ensure all your legal rights and remedies are protected.

Our Practice Areas Contact- Submit a Case

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.



Spam Protection:

CAPTCHA Image [ Different Image ]
Directions ALO
Anderson Law Offices, LLC

Anderson Law Offices, LLC 17138 Lorain Avenue, Suite 211 | Cleveland, OH 44111
Telephone: 216-589-0256 | Telephone: 888-589-0256 | Cleveland Law Office