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Open Access Research article

Evaluation and implications of natural product use in preoperative patients: a retrospective review

Allison R King15*, Flint S Russett25, Joyce A Generali3 and Dennis W Grauer4

Author Affiliations

1 University of Kansas Drug Information Center, 3901 Rainbow Boulevard, MS 4040, Kansas City, Kansas, 66160, USA

2 St. Claire Regional Medical Center, Department of Pharmacy, 222 Medical Circle, Morehead, Kentucky, 40351, USA

3 Drug Information Center, University of Kansas, 3901 Rainbow Boulevard, MS 4040, Kansas City, Kansas, 66160, USA

4 Department of Pharmacy Practice, Malott hall, Room 2058, 1251 Wescoe Hall Drive, Lawrence, Kansas 66045-7582, USA

5 University of Kansas Hospital, 3901 Rainbow Boulevard, MS 4040, Kansas City, Kansas, 66160, USA

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2009, 9:38  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-9-38

Published: 13 October 2009



Medication Reconciliation and Medication Safety are two themes emphasized in a variety of healthcare organizations. As a result, health care facilities have established methods for obtaining a patient's medication history. However, these methods may vary among institutions or even among the health care professionals in a single institution, and studies have shown that patients are reluctant to disclose their complementary and alternative medicine use to any health care professional. This lack of disclosure is important in surgical patients because of potential herbal interactions with medications and drugs used during the surgical procedure; and the potential for adverse reactions including effects on coagulation, blood pressure, sedation, electrolytes or diuresis. Therefore, the objectives of this study are to identify patterns of natural product use, to identify potential complications among patients scheduled for surgery, to improve existing medication reconciliation efforts, and to develop discontinuation guidelines for the use of these products prior to surgery.


A retrospective review of surgery patients presenting to the Anesthesia Preoperative Evaluation Clinic (APEC) at the University of Kansas Hospital was conducted to identify the prevalence of natural product use. The following data was collected: patient age; gender; allergy information; date of medication history; number of days prior to surgery; source of medication history; credentials of person obtaining the history; number and name of prescription medications, over-the-counter medications and natural products; and natural product dosage. Following the collection of data and analysis of the most common natural products used, possible complications and interactions were identified, and a protocol regarding the pre-operative use of natural products was developed and implemented.


Approximately one-fourth of patients seen in the APEC indicated the use of natural products. Patients taking natural products were significantly older, were more likely to undergo cardiac or chest surgery, and were more likely to be taking more prescription and non-prescription medications (all p < 0.001).


Based on the results of this study, it is concluded that there is a need for established guidelines regarding discontinuation of selected natural products prior to surgery and further education is needed concerning the perioperative implications of natural products.