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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 8521

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: Journal Article

Roughead EE, Lexchin J.
Adverse drug events: counting is not enough, action is needed.
Med J Aust 2006 Apr 3; 184:(7):315-6


An article in this issue of the Journal by Miller and colleagues1 provides further evidence of the magnitude and seriousness of the problem of adverse drug events (ADEs) in general practice. Their study highlights our ongoing failure to address the problem of ADEs – medication-related incidents that cause patient harm.

“Consumer Medicine Information needs to be routinely used in medical encounters, so that patients can recognise ADEs and know what to report to their GP . . .”

Each year in Australia, about 17.5 million people make 95 million visits to their general practitioner.2 Based on Miller et al’s estimate – that 10.4% of patients attending general practice experience an ADE – almost 2 million people have an ADE annually. Moreover, their findings show that these ADEs are not trivial, with about 1 million being moderate or severe and 138 000 requiring hospitalisation, a finding consistent with previous estimates.3 Many of these ADEs are preventable, although the exact proportion of preventable events can be debated.

There have now been more than 30 Australian studies estimating the number of ADEs in different settings.3 It is clear that counting is not enough – it is time for action, but what can be done?…

Publication Types: Comment Editorial MeSH Terms: Adverse Drug Reaction Reporting Systems/organization & administration* Australia Drug Therapy/adverse effects* Drug Therapy/statistics & numerical data* Family Practice/organization & administration* Family Practice/statistics & numerical data* Humans Medication Errors/prevention & control Medication Errors/statistics & numerical data Organizational Culture


Comment in:
Med J Aust. 2006 Jun 19;184(12):646.

Comment on:
Med J Aust. 2006 Apr 3;184(7):321-4.


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Far too large a section of the treatment of disease is to-day controlled by the big manufacturing pharmacists, who have enslaved us in a plausible pseudo-science...
The blind faith which some men have in medicines illustrates too often the greatest of all human capacities - the capacity for self deception...
Some one will say, Is this all your science has to tell us? Is this the outcome of decades of good clinical work, of patient study of the disease, of anxious trial in such good faith of so many drugs? Give us back the childlike trust of the fathers in antimony and in the lancet rather than this cold nihilism. Not at all! Let us accept the truth, however unpleasant it may be, and with the death rate staring us in the face, let us not be deceived with vain fancies...
we need a stern, iconoclastic spirit which leads, not to nihilism, but to an active skepticism - not the passive skepticism, born of despair, but the active skepticism born of a knowledge that recognizes its limitations and knows full well that only in this attitude of mind can true progress be made.
- William Osler 1909