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What are medical contraindications?

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2024 | Personal Injury

The healthcare field has its own terminology, which can make it feel like you’re listening to another language when your care team is speaking about your situation. One term you may hear is ‘contraindication.’

Understanding this term’s meaning and how it can impact your treatment can potentially prove crucial to your well-being.

Relative and absolute concerns

A contraindication refers to a situation when a drug, procedure or surgery should not be used because it may harm the patient. There are two main categories of contraindications:

If the contraindication is relative, a medical treatment or procedure may still be considered if the benefits outweigh the risks. However, if the contraindication is absolute, the risks far outweigh any benefits, and the medication or surgery should not be done under any circumstances.

There are several scenarios where contraindications may come into play, including

  • Drug-drug interactions, where some medications can’t be used together because of harmful effects.
  • Certain pre-existing conditions can make specific treatments unsafe. For example, someone with severe asthma may not be able to take some heart medications.
  • A drug can also be contraindicated if a patient is known to be allergic to a particular medication.
  • Many drugs are contraindicated during pregnancy or breastfeeding because they may harm a fetus.

Awareness of contraindications can help patients better understand their options and empower them to make informed decisions. This awareness can also promote open communication between patients and healthcare providers.

It’s imperative that medical professionals understand and review contraindications. Failure to do so could lead to severe health complications and, in some cases, could be life-threatening. It could be considered negligence if a physician chooses to ignore these warnings. If a patient suffers actual harm, it could be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.