Monday, February 13, 2017 at 10:00:00 am Comments (1)
At the beginning of the New Year, it's important to examine our health and lifestyle and plan for ways to improve in 2017. As we age, we tend to accumulate a list of daily prescription medications. It's common for the average American to see several different doctors for different conditions, and for each doctor to prescribe a particular remedy. In general, there's a real risk for poor coordination of care among primary care doctors and specialists due to the fragmentation of health care – and this can lead to having multiple drugs prescribed for similar ailments. In addition, the availability of over-the-counter therapies presents the opportunity for even more drug interactions.
Currently, almost 60 percent of Americans are taking at least one prescription drug, and nearly 20 percent are taking more than five prescriptions medicines. Add in over-the-counter medicines, and you have a huge potential for side effects, drug-drug interactions and negative outcomes.
The biggest issue is that Americans tend to self-treat for many common ailments and often take multiple OTC medications in conjunction with powerful prescription drugs. These interactions can result in damage to the liver, kidney and other organ systems.
Some ways to reduce risk for adverse drug events are:
1. Communicate effectively with every doctor. Carry a list of your medications with you in your wallet or on your phone, and verify meds at each visit.
2. Always question the need for medications annually. When meeting with your health care provider, question the need for all the medications on your list at least annually. Make sure to ask why you're taking a particular drug and how long you'll need it.
3. Verify all new prescription bottles for accuracy. While it's rare, pharmacies do occasionally make mistakes. Verify that the label reads exactly what you're expecting to get and that the product inside the bottle is what's on the label.