Healthcare News & Insights

Cost-cutting patients set scene for more medical errors

Cost-conscious patients are looking for any way to save a buck, but new research shows that thriftiness leads to self-diagnosis and treatments that end up requiring more complicated care. A new study focused on prescription sharing uncovered some alarming, if unsurprising, details.

More than half of people who admitted sharing meds (55%) said they received no written instructions or warning from the person who provided the medication. And 38% didn’t even get verbal directions on how to use it.

Not surprisingly, 25% of those who borrowed meds experienced side effects.

Didn’t tell docs they shared prescriptions

The great irony is that 77% of people borrowed meds to avoid a doctor visit and save money — but one-third of them required treatment for side effects, or because their condition didn’t improve or worsened.

The risks to a patient who shares medication or self-treats are obvious, but health providers working with them are at risk too. In the study, half of those who ended up seeking treatment, never told their doctor they had taken prescription medication.

Not having such key information could easily lead a provider to unwittingly misdiagnose and/or over-prescribe.

All the more reason to keep educating patients on both the risks of unsupervised self-treatment and the importance of telling the doctor everything, no matter how minor it seems.

The study was presented at the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting.

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