Common Deadly Mistakes Made When Taking Pain Medication

Kay Van Wey shares nine common mistakes made while taking pain pills.

Accidental Deaths Occur Daily

Pain pill addiction and overdosing have become an epidemic in the United States. In many instances, serious injury or death occurs when mistakes are made by those who are taking their pain medication prescribed to them for the right reasons, and not abusing drugs in any way. Some of these mistakes are, unfortunately, causing accidental deaths that could be avoided.

I came across an article on WebMD recently that touched on some pain medication mistakes that people commonly make. The list was compiled by pharmacist Kristen A. Binaso (spokeswoman for the America Pharmacists Association), and pain specialist Eric R. Haynes, MD (founder of Comprehensive Pain Management Partners in Trinity, Florida).

Avoid These Mistakes to Stay Safe

In an attempt to spread the awareness of these preventable mistakes that are killing people, I am recapping the mistakes and spreading the news. Please continue to share this news with friends and loved ones to help save lives. Here are nine mistakes to avoid:

  1. The belief that if one pill feels good, two must be better. Only take the recommended or prescribed dosage of medication given by your doctor, or you could suffer serious adverse effects, or even death. Another common mistake is taking another type of pain pill in an attempt to rid pain. Certain combinations can be deadly.
  2. Duplication overdosing. People who take over-the-counter drugs or prescription drugs without reading the label are putting themselves at risk for injury. If another drug is taken, and you don’t realize you are doubling the dosage of an ingredient by taking this other drug, an overdose could occur.
  3. Drinking while taking medications that warn against it. If the label on your prescription medication displays a “no alcohol” symbol (an image of a martini glass with a slash through it), you should avoid drinking beer, wine or liquor.
  4. Drug interactions. Before you take a pain pill, you need to be aware of any other medications, herbs or supplements you are taking. The wrong combination can be dangerous, and possibly even deadly. Talk to your pharmacist and make sure your doctor knows all medications you are taking before another is prescribed.
  5. Drugged driving. Avoid driving while taking pain medication. You are risking your life and the lives of others.
  6. Sharing prescription pain medications with family or friends. Unfortunately, this is quite common and can be very serious. The person you share with may have a problem or an allergic reaction to the drug you give them that you may not be aware of. This could be life threatening.
  7. Not talking to the pharmacist about your medication. Ask your pharmacist if there are any symptoms you should look out for while taking your medication. Reading the labels on pill bottles can be confusing and your pharmacist can clear up any questions you may have.
  8. Keeping expired drugs around. Were you aware that once pills pass their expiration date, they begin to break down? Taking outdated medication is a common mistake that lands many people in the emergency room. You could have a negative reaction to a breakdown product that can be very dangerous. Throw out unused, expired drugs.
  9. Breaking unbreakable pills. When pills are dismantled the incorrect way, the pill may not work, or it may harm you. If a pill doesn’t have a score mark across it, don’t cut it!

Communicate with Health Professionals

It is my hope that you maintain open lines of communication with your doctor and your pharmacist so that you can take the precautions necessary for taking medication safely. Do your research, be aware of the dangers, and avoid these nine mistakes that can mean the difference between life and death.

photo credit: Ivanka Majic via photopin cc

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Money Before Medicine

Schneider duo found guilty of operating pill mill.

On its seventh day of deliberations, a federal jury on Thursday, June 24 found Kansas  doctor Stephen Schneider and his nurse wife Linda Schneider guilty of conspiring to profit from illegally prescribing painkillers to patients, many of whom later died. The jury also found the Schneiders guilty on five counts of unlawfully writing prescriptions and on 11 health care fraud counts. The jury found Linda Schneider guilty of 15 money laundering charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway prosecuted the case, which consumed eight weeks of trial. In a 34-count indictment, the Schneiders were charged with conspiring to illegally distribute prescription drugs that contributed to 21 deaths, fraud, and money laundering. The prosecution put on evidence of 176 overdoses and 68 deaths related to the pill mill.

This was a case of “money before medicine,” Tanya Treadway said. According to the prosecution, about half of the 10,000 patients treated at the Schneider Medical Clinic received pain medication. The clinic was open 11 hours a day every day, had 14 exam rooms and  scheduled patients 10 minutes apart.  Prosecutors allege the clinic made $7 million in a little over four years through health care fraud. The Schneiders pocketed about $1.5 million. The prosecution put on evidence of 176 overdoses and 68 deaths related to the pill mill.

Dr. Schneider’s attorney, reportedly supported by the advocacy group Pain Relief Network that advocates for the right to pain treatment, argued that Dr. Schneider acted “with a pure heart.” He said that “what [Dr. Schneider] did with his patients, he did so innocently, he did so honestly, and he did so courageously.”

 

Curiously, Dr. Schneider chose to drive a bright yellow hummer emblazoned with skull and crossbones to and from the pill mill on a daily basis. I wonder what kind of message he was trying to send? Was he  in a state of deep denial or did he have  so little fear of ever being prosecuted for his pill peddling that he felt bulletproof? We will probably never know, but I am sure the vehicle represents to the victims everything that was wrong with the Schneiders and their so called medical practice.

Sentencing has not yet been set. The Schneiders could face up to a life sentence.  The Schneiders also will stand trial in several civil wrongful death lawsuits which have been filed against them.
 

 We applaud the courage of Tanya Treadway in stepping up to the plate to prosecute this case.  It takes hard work and effort to bring persons such as these to justice.  Prosecutions such as these must continue to happen. Pill mill operators need to go to jail  just like persons who peddle street drugs go to jail. Pill mill operators must also be held liable for monetary damages for the devastation that they are causing while lining their pockets with blood money.Hopefully, the combination of vigorous criminal and civil prosecution will stem the tide of prescription drug overdose deaths.
 

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