Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Wisdom Wednesday: Iatrogenic Disease
Iatrogenic – induced inadvertently by [the words or action of] a physician or by medical treatment or diagnostic procedures.
I have experienced many examples of iatrogenic disease over the course of 39 years of practice. In the early years of my chiropractic career, it was trying desperately to treat patients that had failed back surgery syndrome. I have also treated a number of patients that became ill from bowel resections and cholecystectomies. But those number pale compared to the escalating numbers of patients developing new diseases from their medications.
This week alone I have two patients that appear to have developed type II diabetes from taking statin drugs. In both cases they have been taking statin drugs for years. When the diabetes was detected, their PCP (primary care physician) just added metformin and glyburide to their growing list of prescription drugs. One patient was on five meds, the other on ten. Neither case responded to the diabetic medications and they ended up in my office.
In another case this past week, a patient’s insomnia was due to her thyroid medication and another patient’s memory loss was secondary to his heart medication. His memory loss mimicked intermittent, advanced dementia. It was the radical swing in memory issues that keyed me in to the medications as the cause. Of course, he is on ten additional medications daily, so some the effect is probably from drug interactions.
Lipitor (a popular statin drug) has 355 known drug interactions. That is 1521 brand and generic drugs that can create complications when taken with Lipitor. Now add in a drug for hypertension – Norvasc. It has 556 known drug interactions (3240 brand and generic drugs). Add a diuretic, then a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), and antidepressant. Now you have the average American. That’s right, the average American now takes five prescription medications daily.
That’s up from the average of four per person just 10 years ago. Cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins), antidepressants and high blood pressure medications saw especially notable jumps in usage according to a new study published November 3 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Iatrogenic disease from medication side effects are eclipsing digestive issues as the number one health issue in my office. It presents a host of problems – medications don’t test in the QA (Quintessential Applications) protocol. Drugs mandate a change in body chemistry, therefore they always test as offenders. I cannot and did not prescribe any of these medications. Therefore, I cannot tell the patient to stop them. If I suspect an issue (now, a daily occurrence), I have to educate the patient so they can contact their medical doctor and hopefully alter or stop the medication. If all that goes well, I still have to repair the chemical pathways that have been damaged (if possible).
The Bottom Line:
I used to believe that unwarranted surgical intervention was the biggest impediment to helping a patient return to health. The almost universal use of prescription drugs by the American population is by far the greatest threat to the health of our nation.