When drugs that help turn into drugs that harm

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

nutrient-drug-interactions-2129I’ve been thinking an awful lot about drug safety lately, ever since I’ve been camped out at the hospital bedside of a dear friend.  She’s been hospitalized with a severe drug toxicity reaction to a commonly-prescribed medication she’d been newly taking for the past month. And when I say “severe”, I mean you cannot even imagine the horrific symptoms she has suffered day after day after day, week after week, while the pharmaceutical culprit, excruciatingly slowly, clears her system.
Continue reading “When drugs that help turn into drugs that harm”

Is your doctor paying attention?

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

When Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Mary O’Connor published her compelling essay called The Woman Patient: Is Her Voice Heard?“, she raised some frightening questions, particularly for those of us carrying the XX chromosomes.  Examples of what she calls the medical profession’s unconscious bias” against female patients include:

  • women are 22 times less likely to be referred for knee replacement surgery compared to men presenting with the same symptoms and diagnoses
  • girls on pediatric kidney transplant lists are 22% less likely to get a new kidney compared to boys
  • women in their 50s and younger are seven times more likely to be misdiagnosed and sent home from Emergency compared to their male counterparts of the same age presenting with comparable heart attack symptoms(1)

But perhaps the most disturbing lesson was the pervasive sense that somehow docs are just not getting it, and worse, that this “unconscious bias” is affecting medical decision-making – and even doctors’ ability to pay attention. Continue reading “Is your doctor paying attention?”

What your cardiologist (should have) learned last month

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

After a bunch of top cardiologists got together in San Francisco recently for the annual American College of Cardiology scientific meetings, Debra Sherman and her team did a fine job summing up highlights for Reuters.*  One of their first take-home messages: some cardiologists believe that drug prescribing has gotten out of hand.  Continue reading “What your cardiologist (should have) learned last month”

Why don’t patients take their meds as prescribed?

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by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

Compliant is one of those words that makes my skin crawl. It’s the word that our doctors use to describe good patients who take their prescribed medications exactly as ordered. The Teenage Cancer Trust’s Simon Davies in the U.K. once described the C-word (and its ever-so-slightly less patronizing alternative adherent) as words that “sound like they have punishment at the end of them.”

But for most physicians, both words mean the same thing: a serious health care issue. That’s because when patients refuse or stop taking the medicine their doctors have prescribed to help manage a serious medical condition, the consequences are often devastating.  From organ transplant recipients to those living with chronic diagnoses like diabetes, heart disease, epilepsy, HIV or Hepatitis C, those consequences can be swift and sometimes even fatal.  Continue reading “Why don’t patients take their meds as prescribed?”