"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," said study author Dr. Paula Gardiner.
She is the assistant director of Boston Medical Center's integrative medicine and health care disparities.
"Dietary supplements also affect physiological processes in the body and could have an impact on medical procedures like surgery, chemotherapy, blood work and many other treatments or procedures," she added in a medical center news release.
It is estimated that nearly 40 million Americans, or roughly 18% of adults take vitamins or dietary supplements on a daily basis. The study, looked at 558 hospital patients, more than half of whom used dietary supplements.
Of those 333, only 36% had their use of supplements documented in their paperwork at admission to the hospital. Only around 18% told their health care provider about use of supplements as well. The idea situation would require patients to disclose supplementation use, and have their supplementation recorded in their medical documentation.
"Research has shown that some of the reasons patients do not disclose [dietary supplement] use is because they either don't know that physicians need the information, or sometimes there's a fear of being judged by a clinician," Gardiner said.
Doctors need to establish a formalized approach to documentation to help prevent adverse reactions from dietary supplement-prescription medication interactions, Gardiner concluded.