60,000 Patients in Scotland Being Prescribed Drugs which Pose High Risk of Side Effects

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Researchers say that in Scotland, almost 60,000 patients are being given drugs which pose a high risk of side effects. Scientists at the University of Dundee, found that admissions into hospitals and even deaths are intricately related to the preventable side effects of the drugs that are being given to the patients in primary care. The same team of scientists found a few instances like ibuprofen and similar anti-inflammatory drugs were being administered to the patients who were suffering from ulcers in the stomach or problems of kidney. In another instance they came across patients suffering from dementia who were being given anti-psychotic drugs.

Researchers also said that this kind of prescribing of high risk drugs was quite common. They observed a huge variation in the approach to prescription between different practices and this they found highly inexplicable. The team of scientists also said that the GPs might be having a valid reason for giving high risk drugs to patients; it may be particularly true in cases where there is no specified correct course of action. But what indicates that the prescription can be made safer is the wide difference between different practices. They observed about a four fold difference between the practices at each end of a prepared scale.

Patients in Scotland

At the University Medical School’s centre for primary care and population research, Professor Bruce Guthrie and his colleagues collected and analyzed data from 315 general practices in Scotland where 1.76 million patients are registered (of these almost one-third are native to Scotland). On studying the patients the researchers found that out of all the patients who were surveyed 139,404 patients were at the risk of receiving high risk drugs due to factors such as age or any condition that pre-existed. Out of the patients who were at risk, 19,308 were prescribed at least one drug with high risk in the last one year. Professor Guthrie said that if this data was extrapolated to the whole of Scotland then approximately 60,000 patients all over Scotland are being given drugs with high risks. He also said that even if it is the right course of action, even then it should be properly balanced against the dangers it poses. According to him it must be ensured that the patient is not at a greater risk with the use of the drug and a balance has to be struck between the benefits and the risks of the drugs