Side Effects Make Patients Non-Adherent
Headache, nausea, drowsiness – harmless? Think again. Subtle side effects can have a major effect on patient care. While you might have heard a lot about severe adverse drug reactions, such as children who died after taking codeine, most of the adverse reactions patients experience are relatively benign side effects. In fact, adverse drug events and adverse drug reactions are just a name for a subset of side effects.
But like a slow, steady river wearing away the bank, even seemingly minor side effects can undermine your care. Numerous resources and studies link side effects to non-adherence. Many doctors have had at least one patient say they stopped taking their medicationss because of a side effect.
Some of the most adverse reactions to medications include dizziness and nausea, although upset stomach, skin irritation, drowsiness and dry mouth are also common. Have any of your patients stopped medications because of these complaints?
Pharmacogenetic testing has shown promise in alleviating side effects and increasing adherence. Picking the right medication and dose based on the patient’s genetics can reduce the risk of side effects. Plus, even if the medications stay the same, research suggests that testing helps patients tolerate minor side effects because they know that it’s the right drug for them.
The next time a patient tells you that they’re experiencing side effects, stop and consider. Just how much are you really losing to that headache?