Causes of Underdosing & Overdoses in Oregon Medicine

Taking a medication dose appropriate for your needs and body is crucial to recovering from illness or appropriately managing symptoms. Frequently, though, this does not happen, and this can be for a number of reasons. Sometimes, we take a dose that is too low to be therapeutic for us, resulting in ongoing symptoms that could be dangerous.

Similarly, sometimes, we may take doses that are too high to be appropriate, which can also cause adverse reactions and have lasting effects. If underdosing or overdosing on medication has caused injury to you, it may be beneficial to consult an experienced Portland medical malpractice attorney to discuss your options.

Underdosing in Oregon

Underdosing in medicine occurs when a medication is taken at a sub-therapeutic level. This may be due to manufacturing errors, where the medication is mislabeled or manufactured at an inappropriate dose. Suppose you are taking life-saving insulin and receive a dose that is incorrectly labeled as more concentrated than it is, resulting in blood sugar that you have a hard time getting down. This can have dangerous side effects and may even result in a Portland wrongful death claim.

Beyond manufacturing or dispensing issues, a doctor may prescribe a dosage that is too low. This may be to reduce side effects without entirely recognizing the importance of a therapeutic dose, or it could be due to outdated height or weight information for weight-based dosage. This is particularly common in small children who grow quickly or adults whose weight fluctuates.

A third cause of underdosing is due to medication noncompliance. This happens when a patient does not take the medication as prescribed. Maybe they take a lower dose because they are concerned about taking the full dose and are not appropriately educated on their medication regimen. Or they may have a medication that should be taken multiple times a day and forget to take it, resulting in a lower daily dose than is appropriate.

Overdosing in Oregon

Some of the main culprits in overdose cases across the country and in Oregon are opioids and stimulants. A PubMed article on stimulants and the fourth wave of the opioid overdose crisis explains that the more recent increase in stimulant overdose is because they are being used concurrently with opiates. When a person tries to take the stimulant to counter the effect of the opiate, it can become life-threatening.

Prescription opiates like Oxycodone or Vicodin are typically prescribed for moderate to severe pain following surgeries or for short-term pain management. Short-term, monitored use may decrease the chances of developing a dependence and abuse of the drug. This can become a problem when physicians are not adequately monitoring their patient’s use of these medications and begin overprescribing or do not adequately step down a patient who may have become dependent. In these cases, people may resort to recreational opiates like heroin or fentanyl.

Preventing Dosage Errors

When it comes to medication, ensuring that a medication is correctly prescribed, dispensed, and administered is a group effort. While it is up to the physician to know what medications you are on to avoid negative interactions and ensure that the dosages are appropriate for you, the pharmacist should double-check the interactions and the dosage to ensure it is appropriate for your particular care. If you feel that errors have been made and not addressed, it may be time to contact an attorney to help. These medication errors are not always small mistakes and can cause significant harm.