The Pharmacy Chick

Flying the coup in retail

“Accidental” overdose, my foot

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 10:11 am on Friday, October 31, 2008

Hopping onto my soap box.

Hot in the news recently is one former professional basketball player who, it was reported, may have (or may not have) taken an “accidental overdose” on the popular prescription sleep medication Lunesta.  It was reported that this player had “accidentally” consumed 10 tablets.

The rest of this may be read on the internet in various places and I will spare you all the details, because if you read this blog, you 1) probably have a home page with newsy items and 2) have already heard about it, and 3) the specifics are rather sketchy and undefined.

What gets my white coat in a knot is the constant use of the word “accidental” immediately before the word “overdose”.   An accident is an incidental event that is not premeditated that results in unintended consequences.  It is an accident when  you step on a rake and it whaps you in the face.  It is an accident when you back out of the driveway at the same time your neighbor across the street does and you meet in the middle of the street. It is also an accident if you leave your purse in a restaurant.  They are not premeditated, they were not intended and usually resulted in some consequence.

It is not however an accident if you  pour 10 tablets of Lunesta into your hand, grab a glass of water and swallow them.  It may be stupid and irrational, but its not accidental.  It IS an accident if a child consumes 10 lunesta because they look like Skittles.

This event was purely intentional.  Whether he changed his mind, or whether his family intervened may never come out to the public, (and it doesn’t matter) but this kind of overdose is a premeditated event, that occurs when somebody feels the need to do something desperate.  I dont know what the directions were on that bottle but I can guess:  “1 at bedtime if needed?”  “1-2 at bedtime if needed?”  Its a safe bet that it didn’t say “take 10 tabs…..”

There are a lot of words to describe this kind of overdose:  Sad,  pathetic,  unfortunate,  are just a few.  But leave the word “accident” out of it.

Off the soapbox for now.



Comment by Dustin

October 31, 2008 @ 10:18 am

The part that gets me is the claims that it shows how “unsafe” Lunesta is, that someone could overdose on “only” ten pills. Um… There are a lot of “safe” drugs that can place you in serious danger if you consume less than ten pills. You can overdose on Tylenol if you try hard enough.


Comment by TheOtherOne

October 31, 2008 @ 10:53 am

Dustin – seriously? Folks are saying that it shows the drug is unsafe if you can overdose by “only” taking 5 or 10 times the prescribed dose?

Wonder what would happen if you took “only” 10 times the prescribed dose of Viagra? Boniva? Propecia?


Comment by Dustin

October 31, 2008 @ 11:20 am

Yup, here’s a link (5th paragraph):


Comment by EC

October 31, 2008 @ 4:18 pm

Long time reader, first time commentor.

My husband is on a couple medicines for the rest of his life. A month or two ago, he accidentally overdosed on one of them (thank goodness it wasn’t the blood thinner..). He got up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night (still groggy, obviously), went to take a drink of water, and a few seconds later realized he had pills in his mouth. He spit out immediately, but most had dissolved.

Fortunately he ended up being fine.

No doubt the “accidental” is questionable in many many situations, but just thought I’d offer another perspective. 🙂
Thanks for the perspective, but how did he get pills into his mouth if he was going to the bathroom and get a drink only? the Chick is confused about how this could happen.


Comment by Carol

October 31, 2008 @ 6:33 pm

The really irritating part is that soon some idiot will be calling hte guy a “hero” for work he did with underpriviliged children or something.


Comment by EC

November 2, 2008 @ 6:21 pm

Automatic thing, I suppose. Wake up in the AM, take the medicine.

Clearly he wasn’t quite awake.. it was odd.


Comment by Cathy Lane RPh

November 3, 2008 @ 12:50 am

I would classify this as ‘accidental, inadvertent’. Amnesia is sometimes a problem after several nights of long night shifts. I got a call one night from one of my favorite newly graduated, ICU nurses (and, she really was a sweetie). For some reason, nursing at the hospital used to assign new RNs to night shifts until a day shift position opened up. So, this nurse is all in a lather. She was calling in the middle of her ‘day’ after a few traumatic shifts in a row, and says, “Help, please. What’s a toxic dose of potassium for a dog? I got my potassium out ready to take, and my dog came into the room, and I accidentally gave her my potassium.” After determining that it was a younger, bigger animal (without kidney problems), I assured her that there would be no long-lasting or ill-effects, and probably she wanted to make sure it had several nice long drinks, and a walk, and then back to beddy-bye for the owner.


Comment by Cheryl

May 29, 2012 @ 7:37 am

While this may NOT be accidental in fact, pharmacies CAN make mistakes. A pharmacy recently filled a prescription for what should have been 0.5ml (7.5mg total) of ranitidine for my newborn baby boy and they filled it for 7.5ml (15MG/ML) instead. The end result was my son not waking up and being very ill from this ingestion and being rushed to the children’s hospital in Knoxville, TN. The pharmacy calls this an accidental overdose, I call this carelessness. Please be very cautious, even when very weary, while filling medications. This could have cost us his life had I not realized how potent this dose was and had he received more than 2 doses of this medication. The worst part for me, as a parent, is that a newborn cannot tell you what the medication is doing to them as far as side effects. To watch him scream at the top of his lungs with tears pouring down his face before succumbing to a sleep he could not awaken from made me feel horrible. I felt as though this was somehow my fault. You are, at interim, their lifeline…. had my intuition not have told me to call the hospital and question the dosage, he would have kept on receiving this dose and there is no telling what it could have done to such a small child.

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