Nearly half of the accidental deaths from prescription drugs in four Southern California counties from 2006 through 2011 involved a drug prescribed by a physician, according to analysis by the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Details of the Analysis
The Times analyzed cause-of-death findings from coroners' offices and identified 3,733 deaths from prescription drugs during that time. The deaths occurred in:
- Los Angeles;
- San Diego; and
- Ventura counties.
The analysis found that in 1,762 -- or 47% -- of the deaths, a drug prescribed by a physician was the sole cause or a contributing cause of death.
The Times also found that 71 -- or 0.1% -- of all practicing physicians in the four counties were associated with a disproportionate number of fatal prescription overdoses. Those 71 doctors were linked to 298 -- or 17% -- of the total deaths studied.
Experts say that the results of the analysis should prompt closer scrutiny of physicians and their prescribing policies.
Lynn Webster -- president-elect of the American Academy of Pain Medicine -- said that physicians who prescribe pain medications have a duty to screen patients for possible risk of addiction and then monitor the patients to help prevent drug misuse (Glover/Girion, Los Angeles Times, 11/11).