Doctors Not Discussing Potential Harm of Mixing Vitamins and Supplements with Prescription or OTC Drugs

Certain prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications taken together can cause a harmful interaction. Some of these can be serious, even life-threatening.

While doctors are generally pretty good at discussing these risks, it appears they don’t do as good a job when it comes to vitamins and supplements, according to a UCLA study published inPatient Education and Counseling. Yet the risks can be just as dangerous when mixing them with prescription drugs. And with large numbers of the public taking supplements, it is definitely an important conversation to have.

The researchers listened to audio recordings of 1,477 doctor visits between 1998 and 2010. Of the visits, 357 of the patients talked with their doctors about taking vitamins and supplements. But even then, doctors did not discuss all important topics.

Researchers examined five major topics of discussion pertaining to vitamins and supplements: 

  • possible risks;
  • cost;
  • reasons for taking them;
  • effectiveness; and
  • correct way to take them.

The good news is that this study found there tends to be more discussions surrounding herbal supplements. Since these tend to have the highest risk of causing harmful interactions when taken with other prescription medications, it’s definitely beneficial to discuss. But still, more needs to be done to inform patients of the potential risks in mixing vitamins and supplements with prescription or OTC medications.

Liability for Injuries Caused by Harmful Drug Interactions

It would probably be difficult to hold a healthcare provider liable for injuries stemming from mixing of vitamins or supplements with medication. However, when a pharmacist or physician prescribes or fills a medication knowing the patient could be harmed, then the healthcare professional could be liable.

This can happen when a pharmacy has on record a list of the patient’s medications, yet doesn’t address which they shouldn’t take together. Another example is if a doctor fails to verify what a patient is taking before prescribing something else.

To discuss if a doctor or pharmacist may be liable for injuries caused by a harmful interaction of medications, contact an attorney at Gacovino, Lake & Associates. We can determine if a healthcare provider may be liable and if the patient may file a claim.

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