Medical Expert Witness On Medication Errors

In Preventable Medical Errors, medical expert witness Perry Hookman, M.D., writes that cancer outpatient medication errors may be more common than previously thought.

The increasing number of medications — prescription and nonprescription — used by older people has raised the potential for harm from serious drug interactions, doctors warn in a report published 12/24/08 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In a survey of more than 3,000 adults 57 to 85 years old, more than half of respondents reported using 5 or more prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, or dietary supplements. Nearly 30 percent used at least 5 prescription medications. Four percent of respondents were using 1 of 11 drug combinations that put them at risk for a major adverse drug reaction because of an interaction between medications. Five of these combinations included nonprescription medications, including aspirin, niacin, garlic, and Ginkgo. Nearly half of these hazardous combinations involved the use of anticoagulants (warfarin) or antiplatelet agents (aspirin), raising the risk of bleeding.