Study: Doctors may miss drug interactions

July 15, 2009 at 12:28 PM
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TUCSON, July 15 (UPI) -- A U.S. study suggests physicians may often miss potentially dangerous drug interactions.

Researchers led by the University of Arizona found medication prescribers correctly identified fewer than half of drug pairs with potentially dangerous interactions.

The scientists said their finding is important because statistics indicate an average of 2.3 medications is prescribed during each U.S. physician office visit.

The researchers, led by Professor Daniel Malone, mailed a questionnaire to 12,500 U.S. prescribers who were selected based on a history of prescribing drugs associated with known potential drug interactions. Prescribers were primarily physicians, physicians' assistants and nurse practitioners.

Recipients were asked to classify 14 drug pairs as "contraindicated," "may be used together, but with monitoring" or "no interaction." Respondents could also state that they were "not sure."

The 950 respondents classified 42.7 percent of all drug combinations correctly. Of the 14 drug pairs presented, four of them were contraindicated, but a majority of prescribers correctly identified only one of the four pairs as contraindicated.

Moreover, for half of the 14 drug pairs, more than one-third of the respondents answered they were "not sure," and two of these drug pairs were contraindicated.

Malone said the findings indicate health professional programs are not doing enough to teach students about potential drug interactions.

A synopsis of the research appeared in the May issue of the journal Research Activities.

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