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Hospitals 'clueless' about drug side effects

Hospitals 'clueless' about drug side effects

Published: 21 Nov 2011 11:38 GMT+01:00
Updated: 21 Nov 2011 11:38 GMT+01:00

Despite tens of thousands of patients coming down with diseases caused by medications they're taking, awareness of the problem remains low at Sweden's emergency hospitals, according to a recent report.

In a survey sent to 50 emergency hospitals across Sweden by Sveriges Radio (SR) investigative news programme Kaliber, only four of the 40 that answered were aware of how common the problem was among their patients.

"The absolutely first thing that needs to be done is to raise awareness about drug-related problems. It's imperative that both doctors, staff and politicians in the health care sector understand the size of this problem," said Jessica Fryckstedt, chief physician at Karolinska University Hospital (Karolinska sjukhuset) in Stockholm, to SR.

Frykstedt has studied hospital admissions caused by pharmaceuticals.

"That just goes to show that we don't know about it, that we aren't going to discover it, and that these pharmaceutical problems are going to be allowed to continue, and the patient will pay for it with suffering, hospital time, and incorrect medication," she said.

Sweden's National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) is currently working on new, stricter guidelines governing the prescribing of medications to elderly patients.

"We've looked at when a patient comes to the hospital and discovered that on the list of medications written in hospital charts there were almost two mistakes per patient, on average," Lydia Holmdal, a geriatric care specialist at Lund University Hospital.

According to Holmdal, Lund has developed a system whereby extra care is taken to review patients' medications to ensure that there are no adverse interactions between various drugs and that dosages are correct.

While similar systems are in place at some hospitals, officials at the health board want do implement the approach across the Swedish health care system.

"Caregivers have to have a system where people who are 75-years-old or older and have more than five medications, have their medications cross-checked at new visits, when they are admitted to hospital, when they enter home care or nursing homes," health board head Lars-Erik Holm told SR.

He added that the extra resources required to beef up medication cross checks for elderly patients would be money well-spent, as it would help prevent problems that can often only be treated through costly in-patient treatments.

TT/Clara Guibourg (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

14:08 November 21, 2011 by royalgypsy74
This is a common problem worldwide. I am a pharmacy student in the US, and our numbers are horrific in this area as well. The answer? Pharmacists!!!! It's my job to know these things, and it's my job to let patients know that there are risks with every medicine--even aspirin and antibiotics. Trust your drug dealers (the legal ones)!
15:43 November 21, 2011 by Douglas Garner
@royalgypsy... I do miss the quality of my pharmasists in the States. They caught several things my MD's missed over the years.

Regarding the lead in paragraph... I suspect the translation should read "conditions" instead of diseases.
16:08 November 21, 2011 by Kahmoudi
This is not brain surgery; there are sites online to check for drug interactions. I check everything I'm taking even though my pharmacy, CVS does it beforehand. People need to be more proactive in their own well being as well of that of their loved ones. You cannot just simply place blind faith in the medical establishment.

cvs.com/CVSApp/promoContent/promoLandingTemplate.jsp?promoLandingId=3001

reference.medscape.com/drug-interactionchecker

drugstore.com/pharmacy/drugchecker/

healthline.com/druginteractions

www.drugs.com/drug_interactions.html
17:07 November 21, 2011 by David S
It's not just drug interactions. While in hospital after complications following the birth of our son, my sambo was experiencing all sorts of troublesome symptoms.

I researched the drugs she was being given and discovered one of them was well known for giving these symptoms, it had already been banned in the US because of it and was on an EU list of drugs that doctor's were instructed to phase out before a full ban was implemented only a few months later!

Yet here they were prescribing it, clueless about any of this until I provided them with all the printouts.
22:55 November 21, 2011 by Dr. Dillner
One assumes that the hospitals are run by MDs and that they have passed some licensing action. If there is a problem, I would start by pulling the licenses of the MDs who are failing pharmacology!!
00:41 November 22, 2011 by Gamla Hälsingebock
A few extremely generous malpractice awards would do wonders for that and any other system.

@royalgypsy74 Great reply!

However if the source errs and relies on you to catch it you are responsible if you miss one.

Doctors should not rely on others for patient safety.
02:14 November 22, 2011 by waffen
There is too much money that is involved in the med/pharma industry, paticularly in the United States, so do not look to them to police what can be lucrative when people are taking any number of drugs which in combinations will and can cause adverse to fatal reactions.

I do not worry about this because I do not take any artificial drugs, not even an aspirin, (nor do I use tobacco) in any form but one. I

do drink a bottle of good Italian wine each month and all spirits and wines are considered drugs, but I can live very well wlth that one bottle of good Italian wine each month without adverse effects, unless I should drop the bottle and lose the wine, and suffer a heart attack at the loss, or cut my foot on the glass.
23:03 November 22, 2011 by Opinionfool
Might be worth reading this news item posted on the web site of the English newspaper The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/feedarticle/9960535 Seems we've been prescribed paracetamol but the doctors didn't know how it worked.
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