When we feel ill, using drugs is one of the potential solutions to help us deal with our health concern. Drugs come with warning labels that detail potential side effects, but there are times when the drug results in adverse events that can lead to a person’s death.

Last November, the federal government passed new legislation, the Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act (Vanessa’s Law), which aims to pull unsafe drugs off shelves sooner and require hospitals to report serious drug reactions.

A recent commentary in the Canadian Medical Association Journal says that the law could be more effective since less than five per cent of reactions are filed, according to CBC News.

In 2014, there were only 9,004 adverse events reported, while the Vancouver General Hospital sees about 3,000 adverse events each year, commentary co-author and ER physician at the Vancouver hospital told CBC News.

While healthcare institutions are required to report these severe reactions, health workers aren’t required to document adverse events where use of a drug has led to hospitalization, death or near fatalities.

“We need to completely redesign reporting,” the ER physician told CBC News. “We know based on our qualitative work that clinicians seem very motivated to report if we make it about the patient rather than about generating data.”

For example, there have been cases where an adverse reaction to a drug can reoccur since healthcare providers may not communicate the initial drug that caused the issue.

When being treated, patients or their loved ones should always inform their healthcare provider of any adverse reactions they may have had to medication they’ve taken previously.

Before taking any medication, read the label for the appropriate dosage. Also, be aware of any possible side effects since this way you’ll know what to watch out for. Everyone reacts to vaccines and medication in a different way and there’s no predicting when you may be the victim of an adverse reaction. Patients should be aware of when they’re having a bad reaction so they can act quickly.

It may also be prudent to check a medication’s expiry date since media reports have found expired medication on pharmacy shelves. If the medication you recently bought is expired, call your pharmacy to inquire about next steps. If it’s medication you’ve had in the home for a while, consult a physician.

The personal injury and accident lawyers at Neinstein have been handling all types of injuries for over 45 years including injuries from medical malpractice. We understand the impacts injuries can have on your life and we know how to help you. Call us at 416-920-4242. Set up a free consultation and come talk with us.

Greg Neinstein