At-home medication errors double in 13 years

Medication errors occurring outside of healthcare facilities doubled from 2000 through 2012, according to a study published in the journal Clinical Toxicology.

For the study, researchers with Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus analyzed 67,603 emergency calls to poison control centers around the country. The team found serious medication errors per 100,000 people increased from 1.09 in 2000 to 2.28 in 2012.

The medications most commonly associated with errors were cardiovascular drugs (21 percent), analgesics (12 percent) and hormone antagonists (11 percent). Collectively, cardiovascular and analgesic medications accounted for more than 66 percent of all fatalities identified in the study. Commonly identified medication errors included taking an incorrect dose, mistakenly using the wrong medication and accidentally taking the medication twice.

"Drug manufacturers and pharmacists have a role to play when it comes to reducing medication errors," said Henry Spiller, director of the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children's and one of the study's co-authors. "There is room for improvement in product packaging and labeling. Dosing instructions could be made clearer, especially for patients and caregivers with limited literacy or numeracy."

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