Integrative Healthcare/Medicine Professionals Need to Be Vigilant About Adverse Drug Reactions
Pharmaceuticals are the most commonly used treatments in health care. As a result, they are associated with a higher incidence of errors and adverse events than other health care interventions. A 2012 study by Avert et al revealed that in the United Kingdom 12% of all primary care patients may be affected by a prescribing or monitoring error over a 12-month period. This figure, increased to 38% for people over 75 years and older with 30% in patients receiving five or more drugs during a 12-month period. In Australia, 30 % of hospitalisations in the elderly are from adverse drug reactions. Medication errors have always occurred and are not unique the UK and Australia; it is a global issue!
Integrative healthcare/medicine, harness the best of traditional medicine systems, spiritual practice, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) healing methods, modern science and allopathic medicine. The goal of this system is to focus on the understanding of patient’s individual health status in order to provide the best possible Integrative healthcare treatment and care.
As Integrative healthcare/medicine professionals, we have to ensure safe clinical practice for all our clients/patients. The time spent gathering patient information by practitioners of Integrative healthcare is substantially higher than opportunities given to conventional family physicians. This provides an opportunity for practitioners of Integrative healthcare and Complementary and Alternative Medicine to reduce medication errors. For the practitioner of Integrative healthcare/medicine, it is essential to:
- Take an accurate medication history. This will avoid duplication of drug/ herbal medicine administration, which will help prevent unwanted interactions
- Check for hazardous herbal and pharmaceutical drugs i.e. interactions, dose
- Understand herbal and/ or pharmaceutical drug pharmacology and pharmacokinetics
- Explain to your clients the importance of getting rid of out of date and unused medicines
- Ask patients to organise their medicines, e.g. use a pill organiser or create a routine
- Request patients to store medications correctly i.e. in accordance with instructions given
- Have good and effective communication with the patient. This is not only essential for compliance but also represents good clinical practice
- Consider the importance of ‘Health Literacy’. This is often undervalued but is extremely important in all health care practice – check out the Apple A Day RX blog for more information.
We tend to think that medication errors occur only in the conventional medical care systems, however, Integrative healthcare/ medicine professionals who prescribe dietary supplements need to be vigilant on the possibilities of drug-drug interactions, herb-drug interaction and product contamination. Adverse reactions can also occur through the use of alternative medicine therapies when treating complex pathologies. Therefore, it is recommended that for treatment of complex diseases an experienced team of Integrative healthcare/ medicine professionals should be employed to implement strategic risk-management protocols.