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Lack of Consistent Supplement Use Documentation for Inpatients

While more than half of patients used prior to hospitalization, most were not asked upon admission

THURSDAY, June 25, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Upon hospital admission, most patients are not asked if they take dietary supplements, according to a study published recently in Patient Education and Counseling.

The study included 558 hospital patients, more than half of whom (60 percent) used dietary supplements. Of those 333 patients, only 36 percent had use of supplements documented at admission to the hospital. Only 18 percent told a health care provider about their dietary supplement use, and only one in five were asked about dietary supplement use by a health care provider.

The ideal scenario is to be asked at admission about dietary supplement use, to disclose use of the products, and have their use documented in medical records. But all three criteria were met for only 6 percent of the supplement users, the researchers found. Documentation of dietary supplement use on medical charts was lower among older patients and non-white patients.

"Medical school faculty have the opportunity, and in fact the obligation, to educate tomorrow's physicians about the importance of dietary supplement dialogue with patients of all ages and cultural backgrounds," study author Paula Gardiner, M.D., M.P.H., assistant director of Boston Medical Center's program for integrative medicine and health care disparities, said in a center news release. "If clinicians are unaware of possible drug-dietary supplement reactions, they may unknowingly provide a treatment plan or prescribe medications that could have an adverse reaction or interactions with the dietary supplement."

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