Protect Yourself From Overprescribing

Protect Yourself From Overprescribing
Suzanne B. Robotti
Suzanne B. Robotti Executive Director
Last updated:

When your doctor prescribes drugs you don’t need, you have been overprescribed. Even 1 medicine can be too much when it’s the wrong one.

When your healthcare provider prescribes a drug you don’t need, it has been overprescribed.

Most often we think of overprescribing when someone is taking 8, a dozen or more pills a day. But in reality, even 1 medicine can be too much when it’s the wrong one.

Many doctors are “deprescribing” drugs. Deprescribing is the process of backing off medicines thoughtfully. Speaking at the “Prevent Overdiagnosis” conference in Quebec, Canada, last August, Krista Margeson, MD, spoke about reviewing her patients’ drugs.

It was common to find them taking a medicine for which she can find no reason for them to take it — the symptoms have cleared up or the illness resolved but the patient was never told to stop taking the medicine. Dr. Margeson most often deprescribes antidepressants and diabetic medicines because of the high risk of side effects.

Are you now looking at a pill in your hand thinking, “Do I really need this?” Never stop taking a medicine without consulting your doctor. Many drugs should not be stopped abruptly, even when you’re done with them. When you talk to your doctor about “deprescribing,” here are some questions to ask that might clarify:

  • Why was I prescribed this pill?
  • How long have I been taking it?
  • Do I still have the condition that cause me to start taking it?
  • Does it work? Is it treating the symptom, reducing risk or managing a disease effectively?
  • Can it cause harm?
  • Is there an alternative — a lower dose, a change in diet?

Dr. Margeson suggested using the website Medstopper to identify possible drugs to ask your doctor about. From the site: “Medstopper is a tool to help clinicians and patients make decisions about reducing or stopping medications. By entering the list of medications a patient is receiving, Medstopper sequences the drugs from “more likely to stop” to “less likely to stop,” based on three key criteria: the potential of the drug to improve symptoms, its potential to reduce the risk of future illness and its likelihood of causing harm. Suggestions for how to taper the medication are also provided.”

Again, stopping medicines should be done with as much thought and care as starting them.

DISCLAIMER: MedShadow provides information and resources related to medications, their effects, and potential side effects. However, it is important to note that we are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The content on our site is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Individuals dealing with medical conditions or symptoms should seek guidance from a licensed healthcare professional, such as a physician or pharmacist, who can provide personalized medical advice tailored to their specific circumstances.

While we strive to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information presented on MedShadow, we cannot guarantee its completeness or suitability for any particular individual's medical needs. Therefore, we strongly encourage users to consult with qualified healthcare professionals regarding any health-related concerns or decisions. By accessing and using MedShadow, you acknowledge and agree that the information provided on the site is not a substitute for professional medical advice and that you should always consult with a qualified healthcare provider for any medical concerns.

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