How many people take medication because their doctor tells them to, without fully understanding what it is or why it has been prescribed? Pharmacist Ken Lee, author of How safe is your prescription?, advises what you should consider before filling your prescription.
As a second generation pharmacist I have seen many changes in the pharmacy profession. Sadly medication-related problems continue to frequently occur.
The good news is that many of these problems can be prevented through better advice and medication safety screening at the in store pharmacy level.
Medication safety is a significant health problem in Australia with approximately 500,000 people annually experiencing an adverse effect from a medication. It is estimated that around 190,000 hospital admissions each year are associated with problems using medicines, including harmful side effects¹. Also unsafe care is costly, with inappropriate use of medicines in Australia costing approximately $660 million per year in the public hospital system alone².
Many other studies have documented the extent of medication problems. When Australian researchers investigated unplanned admissions to Royal Hobart Hospital involving patients aged 75 years and older, it was found that 30 per cent may have been due to a medicine-related complication3. Researchers estimated that on the basis of their findings one third of people would require hospitalisation for an adverse drug reaction at some time in their lives. Over half of these cases investigated were considered to have been preventable.
If one half of medicine-related hospital admissions are preventable, then greater awareness of this and a team approach that incorporates patients, doctors and pharmacists can reduce patient suffering and ease financial burdens. Researchers in the United States have identified 48 classes of medication that should not be given to the elderly because of their risks and the costs of having to treat medication complications. It’s ridiculous to have all these life saving drugs but not be able to use them on the group of people who need them the most
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