Don't ignore patient complaints about side effects

December 1, 2007

Based on as study of 650 patient reports, physicians dismissed the possibility of adverse drug reactions related to the use of statins almost a third od the time.

Based on a study of 650 patient reports, physicians dismissed the possibility of adverse drug reactions related to the use of statins almost a third of the time. Although the University of California, San Diego study focused solely on HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, some say the findings could be generalized to other medications.

Doctors "have the bad habit of discounting patient complaints," Albert Wu, MD, MPH, professor of health policy and management at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health told American Medical News (10/1/2007). "In our desire not to worry patients unduly, to persuade them to take their medications as directed, and perhaps because we are pressed for time, we may at times dismiss the problems they mention."

Some note, though, that the study does not take into account the physician perspective. Jerry Gurwitz, MD, a patient-safety researcher and professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, acknowledged that physicians may not always detect adverse drug reactions. But he added, "In the context of a busy office with a very booked schedule and lots of patients on lots of drugs with lots of symptoms, it's sometimes hard to make those apparently obvious connections."