January 9, 2017

Medication Errors

In general, I try to avoid paying attention to internet criticism of our practice unless the critique is actionable, realistic and not just someone's frustration with their own experience based on a choice to be late, rude or non compliant. Critiques are highly useful when we can use the information to learn and adapt to be the best care provider for a child.

Recently, a parent critiqued us twice under two different names using similar information on the same day. While I may disagree with the review and even find them frustrating at times, there is often a teaching point hidden among the vitriol. Here is a portion of the review as copied word for word for a little context: "The actually doctors are decent for the most part, but rarely prescribe any medicine to sick children other than recommending "natural" ingredients from grocery stores. One time they prescribed my daughter eye drops that caused her to have an allergic reaction and almost end up in the hospital." "Not to mention they never prescribe antibiotics to help the kids get better."

Clearly, there is a disconnect between the parent's understanding of how medicine helps, how it does not and ultimately can harm as stated with the allergic reaction that occurred. The critique is a shot across the bow for us to work even harder to educate parents regarding why a medicine is necessary and also when we need to avoid it.

Medication errors are the third leading causes of death in the United States behind only heart disease and cancer. The number is quoted at over 200,000 American deaths per year. This number skyrockets when we look at the countless side effects that do not cause death but leave us miserable.

When it comes to the children that we treat, physicians and care providers should refuse to give a medicine unless it is absolutely necessary to the point of the above review. We have no desire to add to the statistics of medication induced negative outcomes. Over the years of writing, I have tried to make it transparent that medicines are causing a lot of harm, especially antibiotics. The onus is ours to convince parents that drugs can be necessary but only rarely.

Educating patients and parents is therefore the key to fixing the problem of over medicalization for a given problem. Thinking about the best way to avoid medicine is to go back to root causes of disease and mitigate them.

God had a plan for us to survive in this beautiful world. It involves healthy lifestyle choices that keeps our immune system strong. The body is protected through breastfeeding, movement, healthy food and spiritual happiness. When this system fails, which it will at times, we then have medicine to correct the issue and allow the body to heal the imbalance.

Here inlies the key. Your body wants to heal! It wants to return to homeostasis. It just requests that you feed it the inputs that it needs to be right. This is the reason that I love to treat children. They want to heal. They desire to run, play and love.

Goals to work toward to avoid NEEDING medicine and risk side effects:

1) Eat healthy - predominantly a whole foods vegetable based diet that incorporates high quality proteins and fats like wild caught fish, grass fed meats and hormone free/antibiotic free poultry.

2) Drink lots of water while avoiding sugar laden beverages.

3) Exercise and move a lot daily.

4) Breastfeed your newborn if possible.

5) Keep chemicals out of your child's environment as much as possible.

6) Sleep adequately based on age. Very important for a healthy immune system.

7) Pray and meditate on gratitude with your kids daily.

8) Consider vitamin D, probiotics and multi mineral vitamins to boost immune function.

9) Get a 20 minute blast of sunlight on your skin daily.

10) Wash your hands and avoid touching your face to prevent the spread of infectious agents.

It is profoundly clear that we need not eschew medicine nor embrace it solely. We need to use a medicine only when truly needed and not to make us feel better by doing something for a virus or other temporarily uncomfortable illness that can resolve without medication management.

Stay warm and healthy but play outside this winter,

Dr. M