Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 1988 ; 34(1): 87-90.
Drug use before hospital admission in Zimbabwe.
Mpilo Hospital, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
Drug use before hospital admission was studied prospectively in 284 consecutive patients admitted to general medical wards in Zimbabwe. Drugs were used by 84% of patients. Self-medication was used by 143 (50%) patients, aspirin (54%) and chloroquine (17%) being the most commonly used drugs. Traditional medicines were used by 55 (19%) patients. Drugs dispensed from orthodox medical sources were taken by 128 (45%) patients. Analgesics (22%), antibiotics (18%), and chloroquine (13%) were the commonest drugs dispensed. Urine screening tests were performed and were positive for aspirin in 37% of cases, chloroquine (33%), and antibiotics (20%). Adverse drug reactions requiring hospital admission occurred in 14 patients (10 orthodox medicines, 4 traditional medicines). Drug use before hospital admission, which is often poorly documented, is a source of potential drug toxicity and may obscure a diagnosis of infective illness.