Topical Steroid Addiction (TSA) & Red Skin Syndrome (RSS) – Medical Errors

Medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States. This is due to wrong diagnosis, wrong medications, and wrong medical management, wrong techniques, and preventable infections acquired in hospitals.

Treatment mishaps must include topical steroid addiction (TSA) patients. Fortunately, these chronic steroid users do not die but they needlessly suffer due to being misdiagnosed with “chronic eczema” and mistreated with topical corticosteroids.  I have treated at least 25-30 patients who were markedly depressed and suicidal.

Advertising is the modern substitute for argument; its function is to make the worse appear better.

Since TSA patients continue to suffer, additional drugs are added to their drug regimen. New potent biological medications are being researched and marketed. These new medications work at the molecular level and their long lasting effects are unknown. Biologics have been used for arthritic problems, gastrointestinal problems, immune system problems, and for “bad eczema” patients. Most of the studies of these new drugs in the dermatologic patients allow the usage of corticosteroids concomitantly. Will the patients be cured? Long term data is not available. If the biological or other immunosuppressant drugs are used with steroids and the patients flare, then something else is always blamed, some hidden allergen, something the patient didn’t do right, some outside factor, some underlying internal problem. Multiple laboratory tests follow in search of an answer but invariably show no abnormality. The march goes on. The flares are from the steroids but continue to go unrecognized. The new drugs might indeed be excellent, but often the medical observations and the protocols are so flawed that the results are inconclusive.

The data of medical mishaps show that annually 12,000 patients die from unnecessary surgery, 7,000 die from medication errors in hospitals, 20,000 die from other errors, 80,000 die from hospital acquired infections and 160,000 die from the negative side-effects of medications taken as prescribed. It should be noted that this data comes exclusively from hospitalizations, but that many of these problems occur outside of hospitals and possibly in greater numbers. With reports from thousands of RSS patients to me personally it is clear that there is an abundant misuse of antibiotics, antivirals, systemic steroids and unrecognized or over treated infections. These reports from non-hospitalized patients confirm that outpatients should be included in the above data.

Data on deaths are easy to obtain, but data on mismanagement or other drug complications are extremely difficult to ascertain particularly in outpatients. Accurate monitoring and reporting standards must be established to protect the public. As the opening aphorism states, marketing and advertising are dangerous substitutes for accurate data.