Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and dietary supplements are widely used by patients. On average, an American household spends up to USD 350 annually on various OTC drugs and dietary supplements. However, the general public is often not aware or informed about how these compounds affect their health, metabolism, drug interactions and possible effect on blood test results.
By Ana-Maria Simundic
It is generally believed that OTC products are safe and healthy. A recently published survey from the journal Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine in association with the European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (EFLM) shows that patients often take dietary supplements and OTC products but are not aware of their potential effect on laboratory test results. The study, which was carried out on patients in 18 European countries, also reports that a large proportion of these patients do not think they should disclose this information with laboratory staff or their physician.
Multivitamins and asprin could effect lab test results
Dietary supplements and OTC drugs are more frequently used by middle-aged patients and in particular women. The most common dietary supplements used are multivitamins and multiminerals, cranberry and asprin. Such a widespread consumption of OTC products obviously raises some patient safety concerns. If consumed within the short period before blood sampling, these compounds may cause changes in laboratory test results. In addition, patients do not believe that they need to disclose this use to medical and laboratory staff.
A multifaceted approach is necessary to address this problem. Educational interventions that target both healthcare professionals and patients seem like an obvious remedy to this problem. Moreover, clinicians ordering the tests and laboratory staff should be more engaged with patients by asking them direct questions about the use of various self-prescribed products.
Research could improve awareness
There is not much data in the literature about the frequency of consumption of various dietary products, vitamins or OTC drugs among the users of laboratory services. The authors hope that their research could help to improve the awareness of the issue among laboratory professionals.
““We hope that our survey helps to raise awareness about this need to educate patients about the potential effect of OTC drugs and dietary supplements on lab test results, and we would encourage clinicians and lab staff to engage more with their patients and ask them direct questions about the use of various self-prescribed products,” said Professor Ana-Maria Simundic of the Sveti Duh Clinical Hospital in Zagreb, Croatia, and the corresponding author of the article.
Read the original article here
Ana-Maria Simundic, Petra Filipi, Alen Vrtaric, Marijana Miler, Nora Nikolac Gabaj, Andrea Kocsis, Sanja Avram, Najdana Gligorovic Barhanovic, Anyla Bulo, Janne Cadamuro, Edmee van Dongen-Lases, Pinar Eker, Andre Vital-e-Silva, Evgenija Homsak, Mercedes Ibarz, Danica Labudovic, Mads Nybo, Hedviga Pivovarníková, Inna Shmidt, Joanna Siodmiak, Zorica Sumarac and Dalius Vitkus: Patient’s knowledge and awareness about the effect of the over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and dietary supplements on laboratory test results: a survey in 18 European countries.