Sunday, September 28, 2008

Death Rates From Prescription Drugs Explode at the Beginning of Each Month

According to research, deaths attributed to medication errors rise by as much as 25 percent above normal in the first few days of every month. This study is the first to document a beginning-of-the-month boost in deaths associated with mistakes in prescription drugs.

The Problem

The primary culprit behind these death rates: A beginning-of-the-month increase in pharmacy workloads and a consequential increase in their error rates. To offer a further explanation of this occurrence, one sociologist stated, "Government assistance payments to the old, sick and the poor are typically received at the beginning of each month. Because of this, there is a beginning-of-the-month spike in purchases of prescription medications."

However, further findings suggest otherwise.

Researchers examined all United States death certificates from 1970 to 2000 to analyze some 131,000 deaths caused by fatal poisoning accidents from drugs. They found that a small number (3 percent) of the deaths were from adverse effects of the right drug taken at the right dose, while the majority of deaths (97 percent) resulted from medication errors:

  • Wrong dose given or taken
  • Accidental overdose of a drug
  • A drug taken inadvertently

It was also discovered that the beginning-of-the-month spike in deaths was apparent in the young and well as in the elderly and poor, indicating the problem is partially due to pharmacy error.

(The study did not include specific clinical information regarding prescription type, dosage or days supply, nor did it include deaths associated with overdose of street drugs or from intentional poisoning.)

The Solution

In order to reduce the medication-error death rate researchers recommended:

  • Pharmacies to consider increasing staffing levels at the beginning of each month
  • Government officials to consider spreading assistance payments out over the entire month, rather than the beginning
  • Both patients and clinical staff to make a special effort to check the accuracy of their prescriptions at the beginning of each month

Science Daily January 6, 2005

8 Drugs that Doctors would never use

Doctors know which prescription and over-the-counter drugs are the most dangerous. The writers of this article asked them the question, "Which medications would you skip?" Here were their answers:


It‘s asthma medicine that can make your asthma deadly. Advair contains the long-acting beta-agonist (LABA) salmeterol. A 2006 analysis found that regular use of LABAs can increase the severity of an asthma attack. Researchers estimate that salmeterol may contribute to as many as 5,000 asthma-related deaths in the United States each year.


Diabetes is destructive enough on its own, but if you try to control it with rosiglitazone, better known as Avandia, it could cause a heart attack. A study found that people who took rosiglitazone for at least a year increased their risk of heart failure or a heart attack by 109 percent and 42 percent, respectively.


This painkiller has been linked to increased risks of stomach bleeding, kidney trouble, and liver damage. And according to a 2005 study, people taking 200 mg of Celebrex twice a day more than doubled their risk of dying of cardiovascular disease. Those on 400 mg twice a day more than tripled their risk.


This antibiotic, which has traditionally been prescribed for respiratory-tract infections, carries a high risk of severe liver side effects. In February 2007, the FDA limited the usage of Ketek to the treatment of pneumonia.

Prilosec and Nexium

The FDA has investigated a suspected link between cardiac trouble and these acid-reflux remedies, although they did not find a "likely" connection. But whether this is true or not, they can raise your risk of pneumonia, and result in an elevated risk of bone loss. The risk of a bone fracture has been estimated to be over 40 percent higher in patients who use these drugs long-term.

Visine Original

These eye drops “get the red out” by shrinking blood vessels. Overuse of the active ingredient tetrahydrozoline can perpetuate the vessel dilating-and-constricting cycle and may cause even more redness.


This decongestant, found in many drugs, can raise blood pressure and heart rate, setting the stage for vascular catastrophe. Over the years, pseudoephedrine has been linked to heart attacks and strokes, as well as worsening the symptoms of prostate disease and glaucoma.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Back to Work!

I just came back from the Dominican Republic this past weekend after a much needed and (I'd like to think) well deserved vacation.

I must admit that I have often undermined the true value in a getaway vacation. I do spend a lot of weekends traveling to see my wife and family, but rarely do I vacation. Sadly this vacation was too short, as most are. I spent a week in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. We stayed on a beautiful resort, The Bahia Principe, with gorgeous beaches and unbelievable weather!

My wife and I enjoyed the much needed rest and relaxation, combined with a worry free environment. There was plenty of healthy food to eat with an abundant selection of fresh fruits and vegetables. We both spent plenty of time in the ocean and enjoyed the sun (in moderation). We had the privilege of going speed boating and a treatment at the spa. It was the perfect week :)

It was very refreshing to say the least, and for those contemplating going away, it is worth every penny!

This now leads me to my post. I feel very fortunate to be able to go away on such a trip and thanks to years of hard work I appreciated the time off even more. I sometimes ask myself what the meaning of life is to me and observe the actions of other and try to figure out what the meaning of life is to them based on their behaviors.

Life is about balance, sometimes a very fine balance. Growing up in the Western world I see that there is a heavy emphasis on going to a job you hate, amassing large amounts of money and material assets(that you may never spend because you died twenty years early stressing out about it) and complaining. There is a complete disregard for exercise, eating healthy and thinking healthy. Remember as I always say, "Your health will cost you your wealth"

Imagine removing these stressors from your life. What would be left? Most people would have nothing to talk about and nothing to do! What did our hunter and gatherer ancestors do with all this free time? They certainly were not "surfing the net" or writing blogs.

I think that we (myself included) as westerners lack balance. We live beyond our means then complain we have no money, we eat shitty diets and complain we are gaining weight, we try fad diets to try to lose weight and when they don't work we complain about that. We are extremely wasteful and have a complete disregard for the planet's resources.

Many of us are not grateful for the basic necessities (water, sewage, electricity)that a large portion of the world does not even have. Next time you find yourself complaining about a meal or you suddenly realize your house is not big enough, realize that there are other humans on this planet that would love to be in your shoes, eating that meal in your house...I remind myself of this very fact on a daily basis.

This trip made me realize how lucky we truly are and how grateful we should be for the things that we have. If we spent more time being grateful for the things we have and less time complaining about the things we don't, I guarantee it will change our lives.

During our stay we were able to see the local city and the amount of poverty outside of the resort was quite startling. I wonder how the locals feel when Americans and Canadians come to their country and spend more in a week then they earn in a year? It breaks my heart to think of it. What it made me realize is how lucky we really are and that each day should be greeted with thanks and a purpose.

My purpose in life is to live congruently with my body, planet and spirit. In doing so, I hope to set an example for my friends, family and patients. May we all be grateful for the things we have and content with our fortunes no matter their size.

What is your purpose?