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Misuse of medications is dangerous, costly

Health care costs have been a large talking point in the news for the past many years. Patients are often asking for medications because they believe that there might be an easy solution in pill form, and doctors are too easily dispensing these medications.

Medical professionals often understand that this intense reliance on medications to treat almost anything is dangerous, and a new study says that improper use of medications costs the health care system in the United States at least $213 billion per year. The direct cost at the pharmacy to a consumer for a medication that they didn't need isn't the largest concern. If a patient is given a wrong medication, one they didn't need or isn't given a medication because of failure to diagnose, the patient can suffer from complications.

When a misdiagnosis is made, or a prescription is issued incorrectly, a patient's health is put at risk, and these errors can lead to a patient becoming hospitalized, spending a longer period of time recovering from illness or injury, or even developing a dependence on a medication, which can result in a life-long struggle.

Doctors have a responsibility to make accurate diagnoses, and treat their patients using proper medications. If they aren't sure about a medication, they can check with resources and other professionals to reduce the chance of improperly issuing a prescription.

According to a director at the institute that conducted the study on medication error costs, proper medication use and prescribing can prevent up to 78 million unnecessary doctors and clinic visits each year.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, "Study: Wiser medication use could cut health costs," Linda A. Johnson, June 19, 2013

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