Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, September 09, 2005

An Important Tip

We don't pretend to be Ask Dr. Koop, but since nobody else bothers to tell you, I do try to pass along the info in medical journals that the people ought to know about.

Vincent Tam and colleagues, writing in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, find based on a review of the literature that hospitals get incorrect information about the prescription drug regimens of something like 1/4 to 1/2 of the people who are admitted. In other words, you go in for a tummy tuck or a brain transplant, whatever it may be, and they screw up and stop giving you your insulin or your beta blockers, or they start giving you too much of something or something you stopped taking last year or something you're allergic to.

So my advice is, if you or somebody you're close to is going into the hospital, take the time to sit down and carefully, legibly write down all the person's prescriptions -- name of the drug, individual dose, and dosing schedule. These authors have all sorts of recommendations about improving the process of "medication history taking" on hospital admission, but none of them are likely to be implemented any time soon. You're on your own.

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