Hep C Bulletin: Medication ManagementApril 30, 2012
Editors at Hepatitis-Central.com
Good healthcare tends to costs a bundle, and not all Americans have it. While this administration’s political agenda includes expanding access to healthcare for everyone, the system remains far from perfect. Even those who have health insurance are not guaranteed personalized, detail-oriented, medical attention. As such, everyone is encouraged to know what medications could be harmful to their health. Since the livers of people with Hepatitis C are especially vulnerable to toxicity from medications, these individuals must be particularly knowledgeable about every drug they put in their body.
The fear of legal culpability puts healthcare in a vice; sources advise checking with a physician before doing any strenuous activity, taking any supplement or trying any new medication – but most people don’t have the luxury of including a primary care doctor in every potentially health-influencing decision they make. As such, many gamble with their well-being by proceeding with medications without an overseeing physician’s consent. Making matters more complex, different practitioners that someone sees may not be fully aware of their entire health history. Without one physician overseeing/monitoring each and every medication a person takes, people need to be their own best health advocate.
The treatment for Hepatitis C keeps improving, and the cure rate of this potentially chronic liver disease keeps rising. Nonetheless, there are still many living with chronic Hepatitis C who choose not to take the treatment, who were unresponsive to the medications or who are ineligible for the treatment. Those who continue to battle with chronic Hepatitis C (or any chronic liver disease) must be extremely cautious about protecting their liver from toxicity.
A majority of medications are processed by the liver, increasing the demand for this organ to filter out hazardous substances from the bloodstream. When a liver is already trying to recover from its seemingly endless battle with the Hepatitis C virus, it is likely to have fewer healthy cells available to filter toxins. The added burden of metabolizing drugs makes it much easier for someone with Hepatitis C to get drug-induced liver damage than someone with a healthy liver.
It’s no secret that drugs can damage the liver – even in a person with a healthy liver. Called drug-induced hepatitis, an example of the accidental harm caused by medications occurred in North Carolina in early 2012. According to reports, a local physician assistant failed to properly monitor the effects of a prescription drug, causing a patient to suffer liver damage. It appears that the patient had been prescribed a drug known to be hard on the liver, and the former supervising physician had ordered frequent liver testing. However, the physician assistant assumed care of the patient and continued the original drug prescription, but failed to renew the order for frequent liver monitoring. Unfortunately, the lack of liver monitoring led to severe, permanent liver damage. The outcome of this situation could have been much worse if the patient had Hepatitis C.
There are hundreds of medications that are metabolized by the liver – both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. In an ideal world, each person would have a physician who knows all about his or her medical history and monitors every pharmaceutical he or she takes. In the real world, many of us are left to fend for ourselves in this arena. Instead of turning one’s well-being over to the medical system, being diagnosed with Hepatitis C should put those affected in the driver seat to control their fate:
- by making sure they know what kind of stress every drug taken places on the liver
- by instigating a dialogue with their primary healthcare provider about monitoring their liver’s health when necessary
In the end, develop the patience to learn about your medications and the courage to speak up to a doctor about their effect on your liver. Being responsible for these two simple steps can help those with chronic Hepatitis C take an active role in receiving the best healthcare possible.
http://www.hepcnet.net/drugsandliverdamage.html, Drugs that may cause Liver Dysfunction or Damage, Retrieved April 15, 2012, HepCnet.net, 2012.
http://www.medicinenet.com/drug_induced_liver_disease/article.htm, Drug-Induced Liver Disease, Dennis Lee, MD, Retrieved April 15, 2012, MedicineNet, Inc., 2012.
http://www.salisburypost.com/News/040512-China-Grove-state-medical-board-physician-assistant-Kim-Reid-qcd, Physician assistant receives ‘letter of concern’ after medication causes liver damage in patient, Shavonne Potts, Retrieved April 15, 2012, Post Publishing Company, Inc., 2012.