Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

AHRQ Releases Tool to Help Consumers Reduce Medication Errors

Photo of woman seated behind a glass of water, pills, and a box labeled with days of the week

From the press release

Three out of four Americans are not following their doctor’s advice when it comes to taking prescription medication, according to U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin.  AHRQ and the National Council on Patient Information and Education have released a revised guide to help patients learn more about how to take medicines safely.  “Your Medicines: Be Smart. Be Safe” is a booklet that includes a detachable, wallet-sized card that can be personalized to help patients keep track of all medicines they are taking, including vitamins and herbal and other dietary supplements.  Available in English and Spanish, the guide includes questions that patients can ask their doctors about their medications.  Select to access a copy of the guide.  Print copies are available by sending an e-mail to ahrqpubs@ahrq.hhs.gov.

May 23, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Doctor’s Office Is Usually First Stop In Medication Mishaps

From the 6 May 2011 Medical News Today article

Harmful effects of medication bring an estimated 4.5 million patients to doctors’ offices and emergency rooms yearly, according to a new study, and people who take multiple medications are particularly vulnerable to unpleasant or dangerous side effects, allergic reactions and toxicity.

Such medication mishaps are a widely recognized problem in health care, but until now, most research has focused on their incidence in the hospital.

“The outpatient setting is where 80 percent of medical care takes place-where we would expect the real burden of the problem to be,” said Urmimala Sarkar, M.D., lead study author, at the University of California, San Francisco.

Analyzing data from 2005 to 2007 from the National Center for Health Statistics, the researchers found that 13.5 million outpatient visits during this three-year period had links to negative effects from prescription medications, in the study appearing online in the journal Health Services Research. …

…While some unwanted effects are inevitable with drug treatment, “many are preventable,” Sarkar said. To reduce their incidence, she said, “medical counseling in doctors’ offices and pharmacies has to be better. Patients need to know what medications they’re on and their possible side effects, and to understand what they’re allergic to.”

Steps to alleviate drug-related problems ultimately should include changes in the health care system, such as coordinated electronic medical records to facilitate information sharing between clinicians, Sarkar said.

Sarkar U, et al. Adverse drug events in U.S. adult ambulatory medical care. Health Services Research online, 2011.

May 6, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Report: Hospital Errors May Be Far More Common Than Suspected

New tracking system uncovers 10 times as many medical mistakes

From the April 7 HealthDay news item

THURSDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) — A new method for identifying medical errors contends that as many as 90 percent of hospital mistakes are overlooked.

The actual error rate is 10 times greater than previously thought, despite a recent focus on reducing error rates and improving patient safety, a new study suggests.

“The more you look for errors, the more you find,” said lead researcher Dr. David C. Classen, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Utah.

“There is a large opportunity for improvement, despite all the work that’s been done,” he said. “And we need better measurement systems to assess how we are doing in patient safety.”

One factor in the high number of errors is that hospital patients tend to be sicker than they were years ago, Classen noted. With the advent of outpatient treatment, “the healthier patients are no longer in hospitals,” he said…..

The report is published in the April issue of Health Affairs.
The abstract is here.
For suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost, click here.

 

 

April 9, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Confusing Labeling Found on Many Nonprescription Kids’ Meds

From a November 30, 2010 Health Day news item

TUESDAY, Nov. 30 (HealthDay News) — The admonishment to parents to carefully follow the directions on the labels of over-the-counter kids’ medicines may be futile, new research suggests.

The study found that most of the popular cough-and-cold, pain-relieving, allergy and stomach drugs just don’t explain dosing very well to begin with. Nor is there much consistency in product labeling.

“Almost all the products had inconsistencies,” said Dr. H. Shonna Yin, lead author of an early-release study that will be published in the Dec. 15 print issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association….

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December 2, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items | , | Leave a comment

   

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