Rx errors frighten patients

November 1, 1999

Pharmaceutical Representative

The potential for medication mix-ups worries patients most, followed by fear of negative drug interactions and treatment costs.

A new study by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists reveals that the potential for medication mix-ups worries patients most, followed by fear of negative drug interactions and treatment costs.

The study, which examined 10 common patient concerns in hospitals and other component health systems, was conducted among more than 1,000 adults age 18 and older.

Many Americans have a relatively high level of anxiety surrounding hospital or health system visits, the study revealed. When asked, the majority of respondents said they were "very concerned" about a number of issues including being given the wrong medication (61%), being given two or more medications that react in a negative way (58%), the cost of treatment (58%), complications from medical procedures (56%), getting an infection (50%) and suffering from pain (49%).

"With more and more sophisticated drugs entering the market today, patients are increasingly worried about the accuracy, safety and appropriate monitoring of their medications to ensure the best outcomes," said Bruce Scott, president of ASHP. "This study shows that patients need to feel more comfortable about their pharmaceutical treatments."

Seventy-six percent of respondents also added that speaking with a pharmacist while in the hospital or health system would help allay their medication concerns. These results are particularly enlightening due to the fact that a 1998 ASHP study revealed that patients often don't realize that pharmacists are part of a hospital's patient care team. When asked to name health care providers who work in hospitals, only 1% of those surveyed in the 1998 study named pharmacists.

"Pharmacists are a great resource for medication information and are available to speak directly with patients and their families about the medications they receive while in the hospital or health system," said Scott. "These new data should also be helpful to hospitals and health systems across the country so that health care professionals can help lower the level of patient anxiety regarding medication use." PR

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