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Get the Full Story on Medications

If you’re not aware of the countless potential dangers associated with medication use, look closely at the warning labels on the bottles, or the cautionary sheet your pharmacist includes with every filled prescription.

Evidence suggests that in many cases, the benefits of medication use may be outweighed by the complications and side effects, a point underscored in this study from the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Telephone surveys were used to gather data on health care utilization, drug complications, and other variables from 2,858 randomly selected outpatients (20-75 years old) from eleven Boston-area ambulatory clinics. Medical records were also reviewed to collect information on diagnoses, medications, allergies, hospitalizations and ADEs (adverse drug events) in the previous year.

Results showed that 79% of patients reported prescription drug use, with 18% reporting a “drug complication,” defined as a problem or symptom in the past year related to prescription medications. Antibiotics, antidepressants, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) were the most common offenders; common side effects included gastrointestinal problems (the most severe reported complication), sleep disturbances, fatigue, and mood changes. The authors mention that although drug complications were “commonly reported by patients,” they were often not noted in corresponding patient medical charts.

These findings emphasize the need for improved doctor-patient communication, while underscoring the potential dangers associated with medication use. For more information on the pros and cons of prescription drugs, and to learn more about non-drug options for treating your pain, contact your doctor of chiropractic.


Gandhi TK, Burstin HR, Cook EF, et al. Drug complications in outpatients. Journal of General Internal Medicine, March 2000: Vol. 15, pp149-54.


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