How Safe Are Your Prescriptions?
A side-effect is an unwanted symptom caused by medical treatment. Side effects can be caused by kinds of medicines, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, complementary medicines including herbal preparations, vitamins, and some products dispensed by naturopaths and other practitioners of complementary medicine. Patients are admitted to the hospital because of problems associated with the use of medicines, including side effects. Death can also occur in severe cases. It is in our best interests to manage medicines wisely.
There are multiple ways by which side effects happen; not following the usage instruction, misdiagnosis, change in dosage, lack of symptoms of side effects, medicine-food interaction, medicine-medicine interaction, medicine/drug allergies and overmedication.
- Not following the usage instruction: Stopping the medicine may be the right choice for patients. But first, patients should talk with their healthcare provider. For example, the safe way to stop taking antidepressant medicine is to lower the dose over time. If you stop taking the medicine suddenly, you are at risk for:
- Returning symptoms, such as severe depression
- Increased risk of suicide (for some people)
- Withdrawal symptoms, which could feel like the flu or produce sleep problems, dizziness, headache, anxiety, or irritability
- Misdiagnosis: A general physician cannot treat a skin rash if it is a type of skin cancer. Many times, due to lack of symptoms the disease remains hidden. And, due to wrong prescriptions, they can affect the body in improper ways.
- Change in dosage: A diabetic patient can require a medicine after every meal in a day or may need a single pill every day of different strength. Suppose a person needs to change the dose due to varying diabetes, then it can affect the ability of a person to stand, think and often results in fainting.
- Lack of symptoms of side effects: During the usage of medicines there can be many effects happening in a patient’s body. Usually, people fail to keep the track of the effects and often consult the doctors late. The most common example is a headache. People tolerate a headache caused by heavy medicines and after two or more days of overdose often end up fainting in public.
- Medicine-food interaction: Results from drugs reacting with foods or beverages. For example, mixing alcohol with some drugs may cause the patient to feel tired or slow their reactions.
- Medicine-medicine interaction: Drug-drug interactions occur when two or more drugs react with each other. This drug-drug interaction may cause a patient to experience an unexpected side effect. For example, mixing a drug you take to help a patient sleep (a sedative) and a drug a patient takes for allergies (an antihistamine) can slow the patient’s reactions and make driving a car or operating machinery dangerous.
- Medicine/drug allergies: Patients have allergies towards various medicines. A different patient may have different allergic conditions. The knowledge of such background history may be mis-calculated before providing a new prescription.
- Overmedication: Aging adults, especially those with chronic conditions, are susceptible to overmedication both through the overuse or misuse of certain medications. Side effects can be drowsiness, physical complications like dry mouth and ulcers, confusion, withdrawal from family or friends, hallucinations, dizziness or falls, fractures, or seizures.
A safe prescription is crucial when medicines are to be taken only with the doctor’s consent. This is because the medicines can have severe effects if they are wrongly consumed. Doctors cannot track patients all the time, due to circumstantial reasons or other problems like the remote location. To have a system like Patient Connect 360 which can assist a physician and a patient in avoiding such side effects before prescribing medicine is crucial.