A study tracked adverse drug events reported at 63 U.S. hospitals between 2004 and 2005. During the study period, the hospitals reported nearly 21,300 emergency department visits.
Extrapolating to the United States as a whole, that means more than 700,000 people, especially those 65 and older, visit U.S. emergency rooms each year as a result of adverse drug reactions.
Seniors were seven times more likely than younger patients to be admitted to a hospital for this reason, and more than twice as likely to be treated in the emergency room.
Drugs, for the purposes of the study, included prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, vaccines, vitamins, dietary supplements, and herbal products. Adverse effects included allergic reactions, side effects, accidental overdoses, or secondary effects such as falls or choking.
Most adverse drug events were due to accidental overdoses and allergic reactions. Drug-related deaths, suicide attempts, abuse, and withdrawals were not considered in the study.
Most patients were treated and released quickly, but roughly 117,000 patients per year required hospitalization for adverse drug events. Many of those cases stemmed from drugs that require monitoring to avoid toxic build-up, including:
- Painkillers containing opioids
- Anticlotting drugs
- Antihistamines and cold remedies
In those 65 and older, ER visits were also linked to:
- Coumadin, which helps prevent blood clots
- Digoxin, which helps weak hearts work more efficiently
Because drug reactions are misdiagnosed relatively frequently, researchers strongly believe their 700,000 estimate is a conservative one. So it probably is three-quarters of a million people every year that are heading off to the ER in the United States because of a reaction to a drug.
And these are the government's very own figures, so believe me they are conservative.
That is a heaping, large number of people -- about as many as the number of innocent people that have been killed in Iraq since the war started. The government's figures here were not quite on target, they were about 22X lower than the John's Hopkins Department of Health (one of the most prestigious medical institutions in the United States) found when they did their analysis.
Of course Iraq is far more tragic an event, but they both have similar causes: a government that is far more focused on its own agenda and those that support its causes, than serving the people who fund it.
Considering all the mistakes made at your corner pharmacy each month that can kill you, it's not at all surprising to learn that this many Americans make a trip to the emergency room every year thanks to drug side effects. Sixteen of the 18 drugs most often linked to adverse reactions have been used for more than two decades.
Nearly the entire modern health care system is responsible for allowing countless unnecessary surgical procedures, drug prescriptions, and errors to occur.
Most people are relatively clueless to the dangers and risks of taking medications. Does that mean that they should always be avoided?
Absolutely not, but they need to be used with great caution and respect for the serious danger and damage that they can cause.
That is why it is important for you to understand one of the important principles in resolving your illness: focus on finding the underlying cause of the problem, and then seeking to understand it, so you can resolve it by addressing its cause.
What many people do not realize is that it is possible to maintain total health by avoiding unnecessary drugs and by gaining a comprehensive, clear and researched understanding of good nutrition and proper lifestyle choices: