Elderly receiving inappropriate prescriptions from their doctor's office

02/24/05

New York, NY - A large review of data linked to over 175,000 older adults enrolled in HMOs indicates that potentially inappropriate medications are being prescribed in substantial numbers. The findings are published in the February Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

In 2000-01, according to researchers, more than 28% of elderly individuals received at least one of 33 medications deemed potentially inappropriate by medical experts, while 5% received one of 11 drugs that had been classified as inappropriate in all older patients.

Data showed that overall rates of use of any of the 33 potentially inappropriate medications were greater in women than in men. However, recently reported information from medical offices shows that prescriptions of these medications for elderly people has not decreased.

"The use of potentially inappropriate medications in the elderly continues to be pervasive throughout the United States despite more than a decade of research and media coverage of this issue," the authors write, calling their work indicative of "the need to understand more fully the rationale behind the continued use of these medications."

An association between potentially inappropriate medications and negative outcomes would support the position that errors like these are common among the elderly outpatient population. Questions still remain as to whether identifying these inappropriate drugs will likely lead to improved use of medications.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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