A Physician's Perspective on the Side Effects of Lupus

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W. Hayes Wilson, M.D. is a rheumatologist at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.

I have the greatest passion for the topic of side effects because it occupies the greatest portion of my day and it is perhaps the most difficult topic to address. As a doctor, it is unfortunate that all I can do for my patients is to help them choose a reasonable treatment plan based on my clinical experience. I cannot predict exactly how this treatment plan will affect them, and sometimes medications have adverse effects. I have never prescribed a medication that I expected to cause a side effect, and I have never prescribed a medication that I expected not to work.

Side effects are things that can happen, not things that will happen; it is the difference between Possibility and Probability. It is possible that a patient will have a side effect; the chances, though, are very small – usually less than 5%. It is probable that the medication will help the patient – there's more than a 50% chance, since all medications have to prove a beneficial effect to be approved by the FDA.

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