I’ve been thinking about Heath Ledger’s death and the release of the new Batman movie and the fact that it broke all box office records for a weekend opening at over $155 million. I guess no one really cares about Ledger’s death anymore and that’s a shame. The movie’s opening weekend was a perfect opportunity for the movie industry to make a statement about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. Of course, I’m dreaming. But one nagging thought kept recurring. How could anyone take a combination of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam (Valium), temazepam (Restoril), alprazolam (Xanax), and doxylamine and think even for a moment that doing that was OK? Another recurring thought was that this thing has to be bigger than the death of one movie star. This thing has to be huge. Well, I found out today just how huge. I learned a new acronym today – FME or fatal medication event.
Multiple online sources quoted statistics from a research study published in the July 28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. Now how’s this for a fun project? The researchers read almost 50 million death certificates from the United States between Jan. 1, 1983, and Dec. 31, 2004. Nearly 225,000 involved FME’s. The overall death rate from FME’s increased 360.5 percent during that time period.
But the increase in FMEs in people aged 40 to 59 was 890.8%.
Professional life underwriters should be scared. I know I am. I’ve added a link to the FDA website on medication errors. Check it out.