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Four Prescription Drugs the Cause of Most Emergency Room Visits

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Yesterday I wrote about the dangers of a common over-the-counter painkiller, Tylenol–but when it comes to prescription medications, a new study found that four drugs are the main culprits for many emergency room visits. True, you must be careful of taking too many Tylenol in consecutive 24-hour periods because of the risk of overdose, as my blog yesterday warned. However, the news about prescription medications is also very important when considering the risk of overdose, as well as deadly allergic reactions.

The new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine and conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, found that warfarin, oral antiplatelet medications, insulins, and oral hypolycemic drugs are the responsible for many emergency room visits in the U.S. The study concluded that better management of antithrombotic medications (or drugs meant to manage blood clots) and anti-diabetic drugs would eliminate potentially thousands of emergency room visits per year.

According to the researchers, nearly 100,000 emergency room visits every year are related to unintentional overdoses or allergic reactions to medications. Nearly half of those are for patients 80 years or older, as elderly adults with medical conditions such as heart problems or diabetes rely on the four main drugs related to emergency room visits to manage their health. The CDC study comes in the wake of the Obama administration's announcement that they plan to decrease emergency room visits by 20% by tackling problems such as this one. Fears that up to 32 million newly insured patients would flood emergency rooms after the implementation of the new healthcare law have racheted up calls for reducing the number of preventable emergency room visits.