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Emergency Room Visits Higher for Kids Who Skip Diabetes and Asthma Meds


Many kids diagnosed with chronic illnesses, such as asthma and type 1 diabetes, are skipping or not taking prescribed medications as directed, according to research conducted by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. As a result, many are ending up in the emergency room (ER) for medical complications.

At least half of American kids diagnosed with asthma or type 1 diabetes are prescribed medications to help them cope with these serious medical problems. In previous research studies, scientists discovered that about 50 to 88 percent of these kids skip dosages. And now new research from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital indicates that when parents do not refill kids’ asthma medication, many kids end up in the emergency room with complications.

Researchers identified two primary reasons that medications are not refilled:

  • Lack of financial resources
  • No visible signs of improvements in kids’ symptoms, causing parents to avoid spending more money on medications; some prescriptions, such as for asthma, are long-acting medications that require continuous use

The American Lung Association reports that approximately 7.1 million American children and teenagers have been diagnosed with asthma. Based on the most current data available (collected in 2009), approximately 774,000 children under age 15 visited the ER for asthma-related health complications. A researcher at Florida State University College of Medicine, who studies type 1 diabetes patients, believes that kids who skip their prescribed medications cost the health care system $100 to $300 billion annually.

Reuters has published a story on this topic as well. It’s titled “Skipping Meds Linked to more Hospital Visits for Kids.