More than half of adults and 44 percent of children who were drug-tested by a national clinical laboratory last year misused their prescription medications, according to a study released Monday by Quest Diagnostics.
Misuse of medications can mean that patients were either taking too much, too little or none of their medications. It also can mean test results showed they were using other drugs that had not been prescribed, including illicit drugs — as 45 percent of adults were doing, the study found.
"These are situations where the patient is placing their life at risk," said Leland McClure, a director with Quest, which is the nation's largest provider of clinical laboratory testing.
The rate of misuse identified by the study might skew higher than what would be found in the general U.S. population. Some patients were tested because their health providers determined there was a "high probability" of them mismanaging medications, the study said.
This fifth year of the prescription drug study made use of more than 3 million test results.