Many adverse drug reactions unreported
OLDER patients are struggling to find easily understood information on their medicines, and are routinely failing to notify doctors of adverse drug reactions, new data has revealed.
Preliminary data from the first National Census of Medicines Use has shown that more than half of patients surveyed had a side-effect or reaction to prescribed, complementary or over-the-counter medicines in the past year. But a significant number of these reactions are never communicated to patients’ GPs.
More than 1000 patients older than 50 participated in the census, which was conducted by the National Prescribing Service and the University of Melbourne.
The census revealed some patients were taking up to 27 prescription and non-prescription medicines a day.
Dr Marie Pirotta, GP and senior research fellow at the University of Melbourne, said the data was a reminder to GPs to ask more questions about non-prescription medicines.
“Some people see the medications they take that aren’t [prescribed by a GP] as their own business,” she said.
“But this is a reminder that we should be asking questions and recording [that] information.”
Dr Vicki Kotsirilos, GP and former president of the Australasian Integrative Medicine Association, said the census showed patients had to be given an opportunity to discuss over-the-counter (OTC) and complementary medicines with their GP in a “non-judgemental dialogue”.
“Limitation of time in a consultation may stop patients from disclosing what OTC and complementary medications [they take]...and also the fear that their GP may not approve,” she said.
The next phase of the census will involve 18- to 49-year-olds and will start later this year.