A new study out of Canada has found that opioids – even in low doses – can increase the risk of traffic accidents. According to the study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, motorists who took doses as low as 20 milligrams of opioids a day had a 21% increased risk of car-accident-related injury. Motorists with higher doses of the drugs had an even greater chance of being involved in a car accident. For example, patients prescribed 100 to 199 mg a day had a 42% greater chance of being in a car accident.
Opioids are a class of drugs commonly used to treat pain. Codeine, morphine, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and the fentanyl patch are all examples of opioids. One concern for the study’s authors is that opioids are being prescribed increasingly often to help patients manage chronic and acute pain. Unfortunately, these medications have side effects that can affect alertness, which can lead to traffic accidents. What does this mean in terms of car accidents in Coral Gables and other Florida cities? It means that if you are taking any prescription medication, you should take some precautionary measures to help prevent a traffic accident in Coral Gables or your Florida community:
1) Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about medication you are prescribed. The medication may have side effects that can affect your ability to drive. Discuss side effects and when it is safe for you to return to driving.
2) Visit the same pharmacy for all your medication needs and get to know your pharmacist. Look for a pharmacy that keeps track of your medication and can alert you when your medications may interact and produce more side effects. Also, speak with your pharmacist. Often, a pharmacist can give you important information about medicine safety and possible side effects to look out for.
3) Limit driving or hang up the keys until your body has adjusted to a new medication and your doses are stable. When you first start a new medication, you may notice more side effects and your doctor may be adjusting the dose to ensure that you are getting the right medication. According to Dr. David Juurlink, this can be one of the riskier times for being involved in an accident, because your body is still getting used to the substance. You can help avoid a car accident or pedestrian accident in Coral Gables or your community by only returning to driving when it is safe to do so.
4) Let your pharmacist and doctor know about any over-the-counter or natural medication you are taking. Some all-natural vitamins and supplements and over-the-counter medications can also have serious side effects that can increase your risk of a car accident or truck accident in Coral Gables or your community. Natural and over-the-counter medications can also interact with your prescription medication, so discuss everything you are taking with your doctor and pharmacist.
5) Keep an eye on your symptoms – they can lead to injury, too. In some cases, the symptoms of the condition you are treating with medication can put you at risk of an accident. For example, if you are in chronic pain, your mobility may be limited and this can affect your driving. In some cases, symptoms can develop if you are allergic to your medication, and these reactions can affect your ability to drive. Discuss symptoms with your doctor and pharmacist when evaluating your ability to drive safely.
6) Make sure you are getting adequate rest. Some researchers have speculated that patients who are in chronic pain may be at increased risk of car accidents because they are not sleeping well due to their condition. There have been many studies showing that fatigued driving can lead to car accidents and truck accidents in Coral Gables and communities across the country.
If you have been injured in a car accident in South Florida, you can always reach the Flaxman Law Group to arrange for a free, no obligation case evaluation.