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Wednesday
Aug292018

Mysterious substance sickens Ohio prison officers, nurses and inmates, requiring overdose-reversal drug

iStock/Thinkstock(CHILLICOTHE, Ohio) -- Multiple inmates and employees at an Ohio state prison received an overdose-reversal drug Wednesday morning after being exposed to an unknown substance, authorities said.

A total of 24 people at the Ross Correctional Institution in Chillicothe -- including officers, nurses and inmates – were exposed and then transported to the nearby Adena Regional Medical Center for treatment.

All are now responsive, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, which is investigating the incident, said in a news release.

The victims received several doses of naloxone, an antidote for narcotic overdoses, and an additional 300 doses were available at the facility if needed.

Authorities alerted the hospital around 9:30 a.m. local time that it would be receiving "numerous unresponsive patients,” Adena Regional Medical Center said in a statement.

The contaminated cell block has been cleared and all individuals from the area have been temporarily relocated within the facility, authorities said.

A hazardous material decontamination team was deployed for cleanup.

"The facility is secure with no safety threat to the public," State Highway Patrol said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Aug292018

Selfless mom donates more than 100 gallons of breast milk

Courtesy Tabitha Frost(CARLSBAD, Calif.) -- When Tabitha Frost learned she was overproducing breast milk, she wanted to use her surplus to help other mothers.

The mother of three has since pumped and gifted an impressive 15,000 ounces, more than 117 gallons.

"I'm happy to help," Frost, a blogger from Carlsbad, California, told "Good Morning America." "I do know of certain people who have had their babies prematurely and their milk hasn't come in yet. I see this as my way of being able to serve my community."

Frost, 29, said that in 2016, after her second child was born, a nurse at the hospital commented on her high production level.

"She said she had never seen so much milk before," Frost recalled.

As it turned out, that Frost had hyperlactation syndrome, a rare condition which means she has an overabundant milk supply.

Frost, who used to be a nanny and preschool teacher, began researching where she could donate excess milk. She now gives 60 of the 90 ounces she pumps daily to a company called Prolacta, and her 8-month-old daughter Cleo consumes the rest.

Also mom to Jaxon, 4, and Adelaide, 2, Frost usually pumps six times a day.

"There's a pump in my bedroom. ... I also have a station on the side of my couch in my living room," Frost explained. "I have a set-up in my car ready to grab wherever I go."

Frost said nothing stops her. She's pumped in restaurants, on vacation, on airplanes and at a concert during a date night with her husband, Nick, 35.

"My most recent one that was kind of funny was at a museum," she said. "I know people find it strange at first, but he [my husband] knows it's part of my routine. He's very supportive of my pumping in public if I need to."

Although her good deed is a lot of work, Frost said that at this point, she doesn't see herself stopping anytime soon.

"I've gone so far," she said, adding, "It's really all or nothing."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Aug292018

Ketamine may be helpful in treating depression, study shows

PYMCA/UIG via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Ketamine, typically considered a recreational drug, has been shown to help people suffering from depression who haven't responded to other medications, a new study has shown.

Researchers at Stanford University assigned a group of 30 people suffering from depression to receive either ketamine and naltrexone, a drug known to block opioid receptors in the brain, or ketamine and a placebo.

The group that received ketamine and a placebo saw a greater improvement in their symptoms a day later, researchers found.

The findings suggest ketamine has a therapeutic action on the brain's opioid receptors, which contradicts previous research and a longstanding belief that ketamine's mechanism in treating depression is similar to other standard anti-depressant treatments that target glutamate receptors in the brain. As such, this may mean researchers have a new target for treating major depression.

The study's results also come at the height of a controversy over ketamine. Although the neurological effects are well-studied in both mice and humans, the drug's use as an anti-depressant remains an off-label recommendation.

"Before we did the study, I wasn't sure that ketamine really worked to treat depression," Dr. Alan Schatzberg, a professor of psychiatry and co-author of the study, said in a press release. "Now I know the drug works, but it doesn't work like everyone thought it was working."

Ketamine now could be seen as an alternative a treatment option for people not responding to typical medications. However, given the arc of pain, depression and opioid addiction, the study's authors also cautioned against its use.

"We have to properly examine the risks associated with using drugs of abuse -- even in low doses -- to treat depression," Schatzberg added.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Aug292018

Texas nurse fired after posting about patient's measles on anti-vaccination page

iStock/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- A nurse at a hospital in Texas where a toddler tested positive for measles has been fired after she posted about the diagnosis on an anti-vaccination website, according to hospital officials.

The employee's firing comes just one day after Texas Children's Hospital said it was investigating the incident.

"We were made aware that one of our nurses posted protected health information regarding a patient on social media," the hospital said in a statement Tuesday night. "We take these matters very seriously as the privacy and well-being of our patients is always a top priority. After an internal investigation, this individual is no longer with the organization."

Texas Children's Hospital in Houston said Monday it stopped a nurse from seeing patients after she reportedly posted about a young boy’s condition on an anti-vaccination group on Facebook, according to a statement.

She allegedly wrote about the case on the "Proud Parents of Unvaccinated Children - Texas" Facebook page, which has since been deleted. A concerned parent posted screenshots of the unidentified nurse’s comments on the hospital's Facebook page late Friday.

“I think it’s easy for us nonvaxxers to make assumptions but most of us have never and will never see one of theses diseases,” the self-identified nurse wrote, according to the screenshots. "[F]or the first time in my career I saw measles this week. Actually most of my coworkers and the ER docs saw measles for the first time as well. And honestly, it was rough. The kid was super sick. Sick enough to be admitted to the ICU and he looked miserable.

“By no means have I changed my vax stance, and I never will. But I just wanted to share my experience and how much worse it was than I expected," she added.

The nurse claimed the patient had recently traveled to a region "where measles is very common" and speculated that he may have contracted the disease overseas.

Texas Children's Hospital responded to the parent’s post on Friday, confirming that it was aware of the post.

“Thank you for your post. We are aware of this situation and have started a thorough investigation.We take these matters very seriously,” the hospital wrote. It edited the statement later to add: “The views of this employee do not represent that of the organization.”

If confirmed, the toddler’s diagnosis would mark the state’s eighth measles case this year. More than 100 people have been diagnosed in the U.S. this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The hospital issued a longer statement on Monday, saying it had reached out to children who may have had contact with the infected toddler.

“A patient treated at Texas Children's Hospital West Campus tested positive for measles. This is a highly-contagious, vaccine-preventable infection. We know vaccination is the best protection against measles,” the hospital told Houston ABC station KTRK Monday. “Our Infection Control and Prevention team immediately identified other children who may have come in contact with this patient to assess their risk and provide clinical recommendations. We have contacted all of those families.”

It said the nurse in question was in good standing with the licensing board, but it would not comment on her vaccination status. The hospital says it strongly encourages all staff to obtain the recommended vaccines.

Measles, also known as rubeola, is a highly contagious virus that spreads through respiratory droplets, especially coughing and sneezing, according to medical officials. Early symptoms include a high fever, runny nose, cough and red eyes, preceded by red spots on the face.

"Measles is such a concern, because one, it's preventable. We have a vaccination that can prevent it," Dr. Umair Shah, executive director of the Harris County, Texas, Health System, told KTRK. "And two, it's so easily transmittable to someone else. ... Vaccines save lives.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Aug282018

As teens turn to cosmetic surgery, study outlines new age-appropriate guidelines

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In an age of social media, when teens are frequently comparing themselves to others and receiving instant comment on their appearance, a greater number of teens than ever are seeking -- and having -- cosmetic surgery procedures.

But, many of these procedures have not been tested on teens. The safety is uncertain and other questions about whether they are appropriate for teens remain.

In a new study published Tuesday in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the authors compiled data on the outcomes of most common cosmetic procedures performed on teenagers.

"Our research exposed a need for stringent guidelines, particularly when it comes to determining when a procedure is appropriate to perform and the recommended age for each procedure," Dr. Min-Jeong Cho, a plastic surgeon of the Dallas Plastic Surgery Institute and co-author of the study, said in a statement. "So that’s what we set out to deliver."

How popular are cosmetic procedures among teens?

Almost 230,000 cosmetic procedures were performed on patients ages 13 to 19 years old in 2017. Teenagers underwent four percent of all cosmetic surgery procedures that year. The most common surgical procedures include nose surgery, male breast reduction and ear surgery. Additionally, more than 160,000 non-surgical cosmetic procedures were performed on this age group, the most common were laser hair removal and Botox injections.

The reasons behind teens and their families requesting these procedures may be well-intentioned. Families may see the surgery as way to help teens improve their self-confidence. But sometimes the surgeries may not be appropriate for certain individuals or at certain ages.

"We wanted to do this study to help teenagers and parents understand that there are cases in which it is appropriate for a teenager to have plastic surgery," Dr. Rod Rohrich, a plastic surgeon at the Dallas Plastic Surgery Institute and co-author of the study, said in an interview with ABC News. "For example, in instances where a teen has prominent ears or a nasal deformity, having those features corrected can help to greatly improve a teen’s psychological maturation and enhance their self-confidence."

However, he expressed worry about the rise in requests for non-surgical procedures just to have a different look.

"It’s concerning that there has been a surge in the use of injectables in young patients to achieve augmented cheeks and lips when there is no evidence that these procedures are safe for adolescents," Rohrich said.

Why do teens seek plastic surgery?


Teenagers seek plastic surgery for a number of reasons, ranging from addressing a health need to fixing a feature that has made them susceptible to bullying. Experts also warn that social-media driven culture may be playing a large part in plastic surgery requests from this age group.

"Performing plastic surgery on teenagers is not new or unusual," Dr. Jay Austen, Chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, in an interview with ABC News. "In fact, it would be typical to see a teenager in our practice. What is new is performing these procedures in the era of social media."

As image-based social media apps that change and enhance people's looks have risen in popularity, so have the number of cosmetic requests he's seen among teenagers in his clinic.

Many others in the medical community agree. According to a recent report from Boston University, published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, the use of social media may be contributing to increased requests from people to alter their appearance. The authors highlight a new phenomenon, dubbed "Snapchat dysmorphia," which has patients seeking out cosmetic surgery to look like filtered versions of themselves, with fuller lips, bigger eyes, or a thinner nose. The authors cautioned these filtered versions often present an unattainable look, blurring the lines between reality and imagination for some of these patients.

It is because of conditions like "Snapchat dysmorphia" that the American Society of Plastic Surgeons emphasized the importance of understanding a teen's motive for surgery and ensuring that every potential teenage patient receives a careful and extensive preoperative evaluation to ensure they are an appropriate candidate for their desired procedure.

Age Matters

Most notable of the recommendations in the review are the specific age considerations, which vary based on each procedure and the growth and development of the area of the body being operated on.

Recommended ages for surgical and non-surgical procedures

    Cosmetic rhinoplasty (nose surgery) Female: 15 to 17 years old
    Cosmetic rhinoplasty (nose surgery) Male: 16 to 18 years old
    Breast augmentation: 18 years and older
    Breast reduction: 18 years and older
    Liposuction (if unresponsive to diet and exercise): 18 years and older
    Otoplasty (ear surgery): 5 to 7 years old
    Sun screen: 5 to 6 years old
    Retin A: 16 to 18 years old
    Lasers for acne scars: 16 to 18 years old
    Chemical peels: 18 years and older
    Laser for cosmetic reasons: 18 years and older
    Botulinum toxin type A (Botox) and filler: 18 years and older


Important steps should be taken when evaluating a teenage patient, the authors added. Parental consent is necessary, along with determining the physical and emotional maturity of the patient and discussing their desires and goals. Doctors should discuss the risks and possible complications involved with surgery, the expected recovery steps afterwards and the limits of the surgery.

"Like every consultation, you want to collect the medical and psychological history from the patient," Austen said. "You also want to provide education about what we can do as plastic surgeons and talk to the patient and their family about what is appropriate and reasonable."

The responsibility for safety also comes down to the individual patients and their families.

Teens and their families interested in plastic surgery should seek out well-trained surgeons and do their research, the authors added, such as through the list of board-certified plastic surgeons on the American Society of Plastic Surgeons' website.

"Be safe, do your research and remember that plastic surgery is real surgery," Rohrich said. "The plastic surgeon you select is the most important factor in ensuring your procedure is done safely and gives you the outcome you hope for. Find a surgeon that listens to teens and will ensure that they are physically and psychologically ready for the procedure they’re seeking."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Aug282018

Yoga class done on water tests your mind, body, spirit and balance

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Pools are not just for swimming anymore.

They are now places you can downward dog, chair pose, child’s pose or namaste your way to ultimate relaxation, if you’re able to -- literally -- stay on board.

TMPL GYM in New York City holds its yoga class right in the middle of the gym's saltwater pool.

The class, Holy Water Yoga, is practiced on floating fitness mats and lives up to its name. It is a holy experience to try to balance on the float while getting your Zen on with yoga poses.

"On land, it's hard enough to balance on one foot, so multiply that by ten on water and it's extra challenging," said Corey Schadeck, group fitness director at TMPL GYM.

The Zen in this type of yoga comes from the very thing you're trying to balance atop of -- the water, experts say.

"On water, there's an element of tranquility to the sound of water," Schadeck said. "[It's] relaxing the mind [and] taking away inhibitions of balance because when you fall in the water, it's almost playful."

David Barton, the founder of TMPL GYM, said knowing that you'll just fall into water keeps the practice fun while it challenges you.

"[You're] using muscles that you otherwise might not be aware of that you need to stabilize your body ... and it's fun," he said. "You work out and fall in the water, splash around and cool off."

If you're ready to give aqua yoga a try, you don’t have to be in New York City. TMPL's Holy Water class is based on the principles of FloatFit, a class available around the world.

The company behind FloatFit is Aquaphysical, the designers of the Aquabase, the world’s first floating exercise mat.

The one-of-a-kind mat is used in 55 countries and there are over 1,000 instructors certified to teach using the mat, according to Aquaphysical.

You can also bring the Aquabase to your backyard pool, for a price. It is available for sale for nearly $700.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Aug272018

Deaths from drugs, alcohol and suicide now outpace diabetes, study shows

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Deaths from self injury, a category that includes drug and alcohol use and committing suicide, has surpassed diabetes as the seventh-leading cause in the U.S., a study has shown.

Self-injury mortality is a term that encompasses deaths due to accidental and non-accidental drug-intoxication, as well as suicide, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the study, researchers used previously available data from the CDC to estimate the number of deaths due to self injury and compared it to the number of deaths from diabetes. Using data from 2016, the researchers showed that 29.1 people per 100,000 died from self injury compared with 24.8 per 100,000 from diabetes.

The true number of deaths may be grossly underreported, the researchers said, as risk factors and reporting methods vary and are often difficult to determine.

While the occurrence of self-injury-related deaths outpaced those due to diabetes, targeted prevention efforts lag behind. As a result, the authors are urging the public and health care providers to start thinking about different types of self injuries as being related when it comes to public health and prevention efforts.

"We're so entrenched in separating suicide from drug overdose or alcohol poisoning deaths that people can't wrap their heads around the idea that they are related," Hilary S. Connery, M.D., Ph.D., a co-author of the study and the clinical director of the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse at McLean Hospital, said in a press release. "It is time to end the siloed approach to prevention."

The authors said they hope that similar to other chronic illnesses -- heart disease, cancer, lung disease -- adequate resources will be put toward targeted research and prevention efforts in order to decrease self-injury-related deaths.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Aug272018

New research says an aspirin a day may not always keep the doctor away

iStock/ThinkstockBY: DR. RYAN GUINNESS

(NEW YORK) -- Approximately one in two American adults takes aspirin on a regular basis. It has been the recommended medication for patients at risk of heart attack and stroke and for survivors of these events.

However, new research presented at the European Society of Cardiology 2018 this weekend challenges existing recommendations for the use of aspirin in adults.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends the use of aspirin to prevent heart attack and stroke among people at moderate risk for these events. Aspirin is also recommended to prevent heart attack and stroke among those who already suffered from one of these events, according to the American Heart Association.

What do you need to know about the new research?

Two important studies were presented at the European Society of Cardiology meeting suggesting little-to-no benefit among those taking aspirin to prevent heart attack and stroke.

Both of these studies were done in people taking aspirin to prevent heart attack and stroke who had no prior history of these events.

The ARRIVE trial published in The Lancet, sought to determine both the potential benefits as well as the risks of taking aspirin for people at moderate risk of heart attack and stroke. The trial included more than 12,000 people and researchers found no benefit among those taking aspirin to prevent heart attack and stroke. Instead, they found a slightly increased risk of bleeding events -- mainly stomach and intestinal bleeding.

The ASCEND trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine asked a similar question, but specifically focused on people with diabetes. This trial included more than 15,000 people and researchers found a small benefit in preventing heart attack and stroke, but the benefit was countered by an increased risk of bleeding events. Additionally, aspirin did not reduce the risk of any type of cancer during the study period, in contrast to results from other aspirin studies in the past.

What do these studies mean for people?

People who are currently taking aspirin should not stop taking it without talking to their physician. The new findings highlight the need for shared-decision making between patients and physicians on this topic.

The authors recommend that the use of aspirin should involve a thoughtful discussion between a patient and their doctor, given the need to weigh heart attack, stroke, and possible cancer prevention benefits against the bleeding risks, patient preferences, cost, and other factors. Each patient will weigh these benefits and risks differently, and the decision should be made in partnership with physicians.

It is also important to remember these results don’t alter existing guidelines.

Is there reason to be skeptical?

Potentially. While these were both well designed studies, they included patients at low-to-moderate risk of heart attack and stroke.

The authors caution that any protective benefit of aspirin may have been overshadowed by the protective effect of other medicines that patients were already taking to improve high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes -- all of which increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Taking these medications may have reduced the risk of heart attack and stroke to the point that aspirin had little chance of providing additional benefit.

While the jury may still be out on the net benefit of aspirin, these studies signal the need to take a more holistic look at this medication before deciding whether aspirin is the right medication for you.

Ryan Guinness M.D., M.P.H., is an internal and preventive medicine resident physician, currently working in the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Aug272018

Children may care about their reputations earlier than thought: Study

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The fear of judgment is a real human concern – and may begin as early as 14 months, a new study shows.

Researchers at Emory University looked at the behavior of 144 children, ages 14 to 24 months, in a variety of scenarios. In the first scenario they observed children when they were in contact with either an attentive or an inattentive adult. When adults were inattentive, children were more likely to explore an attractive toy, compared to when adults were watching the child’s every move, showing that children are in general, are sensitive to having an audience.

“We really care about what people think about us, and it drives our behavior,” said Sara Botto, lead author, PhD. Candidate at Emory University Department of Psychology, in an interview with ABC News.

The next scenario explored whether the same aged children would consider not only attention, but also the values – positive or negative – that the adult expressed for two different outcomes to a situation. Children behaved in ways that were positively valued by the adult (i.e., the adult said things like “Wow! Isn’t that great?”) when the adult was paying attention, but were more likely to engage in negatively valued behaviors (i.e., the adult said things like “Uh oh! Oops, oh no!”) when the adult was not paying attention.

“This pattern of behavior resembles that of older children and adults, who tend to reproduce behavior that is positively valued by others when others are attentive but are more likely to behave in a way that might be negatively evaluated — like cheat or steal more — when they are not being watched,” Botto said.

To see whether children were actually paying attention to the reactions of experimenters, researchers watched the children’s behaviors when the adults had neutral attitudes (i.e. didn’t react to what the children did) and the children no longer chose one outcome over another.

In the final scenario, children not only factored in whether they were being observed, but also took in to account who was observing them. Children engaged in a positively valued behavior when being watched by the adult with the positive outlook and stopped the behavior when being watched by the adult with the negative outlook.

So what does this tell us?


“At this age they aren’t potty trained and can’t talk but are already coding people’s different evaluations and incorporating them in to their behaviors. It’s pretty fascinating,” said Botto.

Previous studies have shown the development of this concern for judgment, and social embarrassment appearing by the age of 4 or 5 in children.

The current study, showing this concern manifests much earlier, encourages parents to give consideration to their own interactions with young children and how the presence of others may affect a young child’s behavior.

Kids fear being negatively evaluated and judged, said Dr. Lama Bazzi, from the American Psychiatric Association Board of Directors, in an interview with ABC News. “That fear leads them to have inhibited temperaments in infancy and early childhood and could risk them developing social anxiety in later years.”

She adds that parenting style is a key player in a child’s development of fear and judgment.

“The key is communicating and to have clear expectations of a child – meaning they know what rules they have to follow, and they know they will be safe and secure, without judgment in any situation as long as they follow the rules.”

For younger children, Bazzi highlights the importance of understanding nonverbal cues – those that children give you when they don’t feel safe. “Hugging them, and praising good behavior will help extinguish inhibition and fear.”

Botto is currently studying even younger children to see whether the sensitivity for others' judgment may emerge even earlier than she has found now. “Children are smarter than we may think and they are extremely attuned to your reactions and what you value. They readily use that information to behave and interact with the world.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Aug272018

1 in 12 kids taking multiple medications at risk for a major drug interaction: Study

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Not much is known about how teens and children use prescription medications, but a new study published in Pediatrics provides some insight.

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago looked at how many prescriptions are being issued to this age group, how many medications they were taking at one time, as well as major drug interactions.

The authors collected health information of over 23,000 children 19 years and younger using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2003 to 2014. Nearly one in five children and adolescents used at least one prescription medication; approximately 7.5 percent used two or more and the use of prescription medications was the highest among adolescent girls (28 percent) and boys ages 6 to 12 years (26.5 percent).

Among those using multiple medications, one in 12 was at risk for a major drug interaction, and the vast majority of these potential interactions involved antidepressants. Adolescent girls were at a higher risk of interacting drug regimens compared to other groups, largely because of their higher rate of medication use.

“Drug interactions occur when one medication impacts the way another medication works on the body and how the other medication is broken down and cleared by the body,” says Jeanette Trella, Managing Director of the Poison Control Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, in an interview with ABC News. “This can result in increased risk of side effects; loss of effectiveness when one medication causes low levels of another; and increase in toxicity when one medication prevents the other from appropriately clearing out from the body.”

The authors note that their findings should bring particular attention to medication safety. Despite the implementation of national programs focusing on medication safety, side effects related to medications remain a leading cause of injuries and death among children and adolescents in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 200,000 children and teens visit emergency departments each year because of side effects related to medications.

A glimpse into a larger issue

“Adverse drug events are a leading cause of injuries and death among both children and adolescents in the U.S.,” said Dr. Dima Qato, Associate Professor of Pharmacy Systems, Outcomes and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy and lead author of the study, in an interview with ABC News. “Information on how younger populations use prescription medications that could potentially lead to these adverse events, however, is lacking.”

Trella agrees. “When it comes to children, many medications are not adequately studied, so we sometimes get surprised by the effects medications may have on children that we may not see in adults.” She adds that with each new medication, whether prescription, over the counter, and dietary supplement, the risk of adverse reactions, drug interactions or medication errors increases. “The risk of it falling into the wrong hands, the hands of a toddler exploring his or her environment or the hands of a teenager looking to harm him or herself or to get high, also increases.”

Preventing adverse drug events

“Medical providers, including those based in retail clinics, emergency rooms, schools, should ask children, adolescents and their parents about all their medications, including medications used to treat acute ailments,” says Qato. “Medical providers should also be aware of the potential risks associated with the concurrent use of prescription medications.”

Other experts argue that raising professional awareness may not be enough. In a commentary article to the study in Pediatrics, Dr. Stephen Downs, Professor of Pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, advocates for a more automated process, one embedded in an electronic medical record to alert the prescriber to dangerous drug interactions before a prescription is written.

Despite efforts made at the provider and system level, responsibility also comes down to the individual patient. “Inform all your providers, including pharmacists, of all medications you are taking or plan to take,” says Qato. “Before purchasing any over-the-counter products or starting a new drug, you should ask your doctor or pharmacists about all the potential side effects and drug-drug interactions associated with the medication.”

“It really helps to try to use the same doctor and same pharmacy so that the records can be updated,” adds Trella. She also recommends keeping the names and doses of the medications on a list in your wallet or in your phone.

For more information on medication side effects, both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC have guidance on medication safety for parents of children and teens.

Ryan Guinness M.D., M.P.H., is an internal and preventive medicine resident physician, currently working in the ABC News Medical Unit.


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