On Patient Compliance

On Patient Compliance
Section 4D - USA Today - Health and Education Tuesday October 3 1995

Prescription-drug related problems - often caused by patients not taking their drugs properly - cost an estimated $75.6 billion in medical bills and cause 119,000 deaths a year, experts said Monday.

Prescription drug-related morbidity and mortality represents a serious medical problem that urgently requires expert attention," says J. Lyle Bootman, dean of pharmacy, University of Arizona, Tuscon.

Drug-related problems include not following directions or forgetting to take a drug, taking doses that are too high or too low being prescribed the wrong drug, not being prescribed a drug when one is needed and side effects ranging from rashes to death.

The study by Bootman and co-researcher Jeffrey A. Johnson was presented at an American Medical Association science writers meeting.

Of the $75.6 billion cost, $47.4 billion was a result of 8.8 million drug-related hospitalizations, Bootman says. That figure represents 28 percent of all hospitalizations.

The most common problem was patient noncompliance. Bootman described a patient prescribed antibiotics for a urinary tract infection. "She stopped taking her antibiotics after two days and ended up in the hospital with a more serious infection" he said.

Better compliance by patients, better prescribing habits by doc- tors and increased counseling by pharmacists could help reduce the cost by $45 billion, Bootman says.
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