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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Failure by doctors to acknowledge adverse drug side effects is a widespread problem

"It has been shown that doctors rarely bother to warn patients about common side effects of medications. And they frequently fail to recognize obvious medication reactions. For example, in a study in which patients with obvious adverse reactions from statin drugs were sent to doctors for evaluations, more than 75 percent of the doctors failed to identify the side effects as related to the statins. Instead, they blamed the symptoms on patients' age or over concern, or simply ignored the question and changed the subject."
Jay S Cohen (MD)
Nowadays, it is standard practice, when a person writes to me seeking advice about, say, leg cramps, I will question them about prescription medicines. More often than not, it turns out that they have been placed on some kind of medication, such as an anti-depressant or cholesterol lowering drug.

Often, the grounds for prescribing the drug in the first place are dubious and should only be the measure of last resort - not first resort!

My usual advice is to request they return to their doctor and request a review of their medication.  I do so with some reluctance because, as Dr Cohen explains in his article above, there is a prevailing denial of medication side effects amongst the medical fraternity and the patient concerned is more likely than not to exit the consultation no better off and sometimes with an additional prescription to boot!

I find this situation quite frustrating at times.  I am not "anti doctor" but I must admit my exasperation does sometimes get the better of me.  We are dealing with people's lives after all.  Their health and safety is paramount.


Primum non nocere is a Latin phrase that means "First, do no harm". The phrase is sometimes recorded as primum nil nocere.[1]
Nonmaleficence, which derives from the maxim, is one of the principal precepts of medical ethics that all medical students are taught in medical school and is a fundamental principle for emergency medical services around the world. Another way to state it is that "given an existing problem, it may be better not to do something, or even to do nothing, than to risk causing more harm than good." It reminds the physician and other health care providers that they must consider the possible harm that any intervention might do. It is invoked when debating the use of an intervention that carries an obvious risk of harm but a less certain chance of benefit. Since at least 1860, the phrase has been for physicians a hallowed expression of hope, intention, humility, and recognition that human acts with good intentions may have unwanted consequences.


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1 comment:

Wayne said...

the doctors dont have alternatives to issuing drugs, so they just keep pedalling them, most have never researched alternative treatments, they are so busy putting through clients every fifteen minutes, its all they can do to get their heads around issuing drugs.....
few people are paid to come and pedal alternative medicines to them like the pharmaceutical sales people. who blind them with science and conventions, the doctors all love the techno talk, working in IT i can say doctors also love to spend big money on flash machines to diagnose the problems they are either going to refer on or prescribe drugs for....