The dangers of polypharmacy

The term polypharmacy refers to an individual who was prescribed more than one medication at the same time to either control a serious condition or treat numerous conditions at once. For more than 150 years, people have understood that taking numerous medicinal treatments at the same time could cause dangerous – even fatal – drug interactions. Even with this knowledge, medical professionals prescribe several medications at an ever-increasing rate.

While the medical field has researched at length to identify dangerous drug interactions, the more medications an individual takes, the higher the risk. Polypharmacy is associated with numerous adverse outcomes, including:

  • Adverse drug reactions
  • Drug to drug interactions
  • Drug to disease interactions
  • Non-adherence
  • Falls
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Hospital admission
  • Mortality

Most commonly, polypharmacy can lead to serious adverse drug reactions (ADR) in patients. An ADR is generally defined as an undesired effect such as amplified drug effects, side effects, interactions with other drugs and interactions with other nutrients or diseases. ADRs can lead to hospital admissions or emergency room visits.

Unfortunately, polypharmacy can often be traced back to negligence, including:

  • Unnecessary prescriptions
  • Failure to acknowledge drug interactions
  • Failure to instruct patient
  • Incorrect dosage
  • Treatment duplication

Polypharmacy can be a dangerous type of medical malpractice as patients can suffer a worsening condition or completely new complications. If you or a loved one has suffered after an instance of medical malpractice or medical negligence, it is wise to seek the guidance of a trusted attorney. A medical malpractice attorney can review your situation and provide information regarding your legal options for compensation.