Purpose: More and more patients use herbal medical products (HMP) and dietary supplements (DS). Due to the possibility of drug interactions and side effects, it is important that physicians are aware of the use. The aim of the present cross sectional survey was to analyse the consumption of HMP and DS among patients recently discharged from two hospital departments.
Methods: Patients were visited within 1 week after discharge and interviewed about their use of HMP and DS. Stored products were inspected and registered. Hospital files and discharge letters were examined to establish the frequency of registration.
Results: Totally, 83 surgical and 117 medical patients were included (n = 200), 139 patients (70%) were women. 53 patients (27%) stored no HMP or DS, whereas the home inventories of 147 patients (74%) comprised 343 products. 116 patients (58%) used HMP or DS daily and 25 patients (13%) used the products on demand. The most frequently used product was multivitamins (82 patients = 41%). Totally, 61% of the products were used on the patients' own initiative. In 3% of the used products, patients were aware of possible side effects. No patients were aware of possible drug interactions. Only 21% of the 211 HMP and DS used daily prior to admission were recorded in the hospital files.
Conclusions: The use of HMP and DS was frequent among surgical and medical patients. The use was often not recorded in the hospital files and patients' knowledge of possible side effects and drug-interactions was minimal.
(c) 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.