Whenever I talk to physicians about outcomes that are worse than you’d expect, they are quick to point out that noncompliance — when a patient does not follow a course of treatment — is a major problem.
Sometimes prescriptions aren’t filled. Other times they are, but patients don’t take the drugs as prescribed. All of this can lead to more than 100,000 deaths a year.
A thorough review published in The New England Journal of Medicine about a decade ago estimated that up to two-thirds of medication-related hospital admissions in the United States were because of noncompliance, at a cost of about $100 billion a year. These included treatments for H.I.V., high blood pressure, mental health and childhood illnesses (it can be difficult to get children to take their medicine, too).