The over-prescription of drugs tends to be a common practice among doctors in the United States. Unfortunately, there are times when a doctor prescribes drugs and does not give much thought to the side effects of the prescriptions or if there are any non-drug alternatives. When exposed to these side effects, the results can be fatal, without any significant or any lasting benefit from the drugs.
In the United States, the average person between the ages of 19 and 64 takes over 11 prescription drugs; children between 0 and 18 take nearly 4 prescriptions; seniors 65 and over can take an average of 31 prescriptions. In many cases, these drugs have been prescribed when they are not truly needed. This amount of over-prescription is due to a medical system that does not offer very means of disease prevention or non-drug alternatives. Due to the limited amount of time doctors have to deal with each patient, doctors tend to quickly prescribe drugs. Additionally, ads for drugs that will stop the effects of the illness may also make doctors and patients quick with prescriptions. However, there does not appear to be any good evidence that there is any lasting benefit to these drugs.
To try to counter over-prescription, doctors are now being encouraged to think past the drugs and to be more cautions when possibly prescribing new drugs. Since new drugs have not been test on very many patients, and those patients are usually younger and healthier than most, when they first enter the market the safety of these drugs is in question, especially for patients who are already taking multiple drugs and there is no knowledge of how they will react. Also, unbiased information on the drugs can be very hard to find.
Doctors can avoid over prescribing drugs in several ways. They can start by thinking of non-drug therapies, treating the underlying cause of the symptoms, and prevention. There should be greater awareness among doctors of the adverse effects of drugs, as well as withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, patients should not be given a drug automatically after asking for it. Drug treatments should not be restarted if they were previously unsuccessful. Medications that are no longer needed should be discontinued. Additionally, if a patient has reservations about a drug, the doctor should respect that. Doctors need to consider the long-term broad impact of the drugs they are prescribing on the patient’s health.
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