Opioid analgesics have a way of getting physicians as well as patients into trouble.

These painkillers account for more medical-malpractice claims related to drug errors than any other drug class, according to a new study released today by the medical liability insurer Coverys that illustrates the far-reaching effects of the opioid abuse epidemic. The company analyzed more than 10,000 closed malpractice claims from 2012 through 2016.

Twenty-four percent of medication-related claims involved opioids, even though these drugs accounted for only about 5% of prescription drugs dispensed in 2016, according to published data from QuintilesIMS, a firm that tracks pharmaceutical activity. The next riskiest drug class identified by Coverys was anticoagulants, at 14% of medication-related claims.

In claims involving opioids, “overdoses are primarily what we see,” said study co-author Robert Hanscom, vice president of business analytics at Coverys. Some claimants also alleged that they became addicted to painkillers. In more than a third of the opioid-related claims, the mistake occurred during the follow-up phase of prescribing.

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PDMPs have many limitations in their current format, including complex access issues, timeliness, and whether the data are presented to the physician automatically or require physician effort to retrieve.

ACEP - Annals of Emergency Medicine – 525

An improved PDMP … with accurate and timely data analysis should be regarded as the cornerstone of our collective efforts to address prescription drug abuse.

Department of Public Health

David is Prescription Advisory’s Chief Marketing Officer. Software startups are his passion.

He also serves as the Director of Startup Grind Princeton and a mentor for the Princeton University eLab.

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