Q: I had a wart on my left ring finger for many years. It never really bothered me and wasn’t visible, being on the side next to the middle finger. When it got big, I would pare it down with tiny scissors.

I was so used to it being there that I didn’t notice right away that it had gone. This was after receiving my Moderna COVID-19 vaccines in January and February. Since a wart is caused by a virus, I’m assuming the vaccinations may have knocked it out. Has anyone else had a similar experience?

A: You are the first person to report this unexpected effect of vaccination to us. The immune system has the ability to overcome the virus that causes warts. Your hypothesis that the vaccine kicked your immune system into high gear so it could vanquish the wart is plausible.

Q: When is the best time to take high blood pressure meds? Morning or night?

A: Doctors often recommend that patients take their blood pressure pills in the morning. The reasoning is that a morning routine will help people remember to take the medicine. Also, blood pressure is usually higher when people are up and active than when they are in bed.

The evidence does not support this recommendation, however. A recent review of 155 randomized controlled trials compared people taking their medicines in the morning or in the evening (Chronobiology International, October 2021). A significant majority of these trials found better blood pressure control when people took their pills at bedtime. None of them found that taking the pills in the morning worked better.

Advertising

Diuretics could be an exception, though. Taking such water pills in the evening might lead to excessive urination during the night.

Q: I’ve had a couple of medical misadventures in my life and a major misdiagnosis. I’ve also been the victim of a pharmaceutical error in which I was given a wrong prescription.

Medical errors kill and injure more innocent people than the police but receive little attention by the news media. I’m a former newspaper reporter and editor. If the American news media becomes concerned about medical errors, we might see some improvement.

A: Unfortunately, misdiagnoses, medical errors and pharmacy mistakes are far more common than people realize. Occasionally, a dramatic blunder gets attention, but the big picture doesn’t.

Dr. Martin Makary made headlines five years ago with an analysis showing that medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. (BMJ, May 2016). He received a lot of pushback from health professionals, but we reached a similar conclusion ourselves when we did the research for our book “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.” If your library does not have a copy, you can find it in the books section of the store at PeoplesPharmacy.com. We offer practical suggestions to help patients avoid both diagnostic errors and pharmacy mistakes.

One patient wrote: “I was not misdiagnosed; I was totally ignored. I complained multiple times to my primary that I was having episodes of irregular heartbeat that caused exhaustion, shortness of breath and chest discomfort. I went for a physical at one point and told her I was having an episode. She didn’t even listen to my chest.

“I finally saw a cardiologist who diagnosed me with atrial fibrillation. He said it could have killed me.”