Patients Clueless about Drug Benefits and Risks
The title to today’s blog is not mine. It belongs to Joe and Teresa Graedon of “The People’s Pharmacy” which ran in today’s Roanoke Times newspaper. I have read and enjoyed the Graedon’s articles on health and medicine for over 20 years and today’s “Clueless Patients” is no exception. The article concludes that both patients and doctors overestimate the benefits of medical interventions (including prescription drugs) and underestimate the dangers.
Patients may be “clueless” but doctors should not be! Unfortunately, they often are just that, clueless. We recently represented a widow whose husband was placed on Warfarin due to a diagnosis of atrial fibrillation or “Afib,”an irregular heartbeat. Warfarin thins the blood and reduces the risk of clot formation. Unfortunately for the patient, he suffered a urinary tract infection several months later and his family doctor, well aware her patient was taking Warfarin, prescribed an antibiotic (Bactrim DS) for his urinary tract infection. The family doctor was unaware that certain antibiotics, like Bactrim, may increase the “thinness” of the blood and cause spontaneous bleeding. The result: our client’s husband experienced a painful headache after taking the antibiotic for several days, suffered a cerebral bleed, and died.
My Take: In today’s world of electronic medical records and quick and easy access to detailed drug information for physicians, there is no excuse for “clueless” doctors.