David McD Taylor, MD, MPH, DRCOG, FACEM, Associate Professor, Director of Emergency Medicine Research; Nicola Walsham, MBBS (hons), DTMH, Registrar; Simone E Taylor, PharmD, BCPS, GradCertCRM, Clinical Pharmacist; LuFee Wong, B.MedSci, Medical Student.Competing interests: We are not aware of any conflicts of interest associated with this research.
Use and toxicity of complementary and alternative medicines among emergency department patients
Article first published online: 8 NOV 2004
Volume 16, Issue 5-6, pages 400–406, October 2004
How to Cite
Taylor, D. M., Walsham, N., Taylor, S. E. and Wong, L. (2004), Use and toxicity of complementary and alternative medicines among emergency department patients. Emergency Medicine, 16: 400–406. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-6723.2004.00644.x
- Issue published online: 23 FEB 2009
- Article first published online: 8 NOV 2004
- Accepted 5 August 2004
- alternative medicine;
- complementary medicine;
Objective: To determine the prevalence and type of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) used by ED patients, to identify patient subgroups more likely to use CAM, the conditions for which they were taken, and the prevalence of side-effects and toxicity associated with CAM use.
Methods: This was an analytical cross-sectional survey of patients at a large tertiary referral ED. Consenting patients completed a specifically designed study questionnaire, in their preferred language if required. Information was collected on CAM use on the day of presentation and within the previous week and previous year.
Results: Four hundred and four patients were enrolled (participation rate 97.1%). Fifty (12.4%, 95% CI 9.4, 16.1) patients had taken a CAM on the day of presentation, 203 (50.2%, 95% CI 45.3, 55.2) within the previous week and 275 (68.1%, 95% CI 63.2, 72.5) within the previous year. CAM users were significantly younger, better educated and more likely to be female than non-CAM users (P < 0.01). 103 different CAM had been taken for a wide variety of reasons. Side-effects were experienced in 53 of the 1182 CAM courses taken (side-effect rate of 4.5%). One patient presented suffering specifically from CAM toxicity.
Conclusion: Complementary and alternative medicines are used by a considerable proportion of ED patients. The potential for side-effects, toxicity and interaction with traditional medication indicates the need for consideration of CAM use in patient assessment.