As people age, there is often an increased need for medication to help better manage high blood pressure, cholesterol, pain, and more. For the most part, elderly people take more medications than most other age groups. Some even divide their drugs into daily pill boxes, causing others to wonder if they even need that much medication.
An article published online in Scientific American about the safety of senior’s drugs and the inappropriate medication seniors are prescribed explains that seniors over the age of 65 may be putting their health at risk. According to the study, approximately 20 percent of prescriptions that primary care providers prescribe to their patients over the age of 65 are inappropriate. This means that seniors aren’t the only ones responsible for their medication errors.
What Is an Inappropriate Medication?
Researchers of this study explained that inappropriate drugs are those that have a higher risk of complication than a similarly effective medicine. Another definition of inappropriate medication is medication that is insufficient to treat the health issue for which it was prescribed or that is mis-prescribed.
Researchers arrived at this conclusion after studying data from 19 previously conducted studies on prescription information for seniors. They cited that the most common inappropriate drugs for the elderly include:
- Propoxyphene (Darvon) – a pain reliever
- Amitriptiline (Elavil, Endep, Vanatrip) – an antidepressant
- Doxazosin (Cardura) – a beta-blocker
- Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) – an antihistamine
When these above medications are mis-prescribed to seniors, they can have adverse results – especially if seniors are taking medications that will interact with the new drug they are prescribed. Because there are serious consequences of mis-prescribed medication, especially among the elderly, our medication error lawyers would like to call attention to this matter.
Researchers noted that elderly patients are at higher risk for adverse health consequences because they are more likely than younger patients to accept a prescription that is not correct due to visual and cognitive decline, and they are more likely to take several drugs that may interact. Additionally, they typically have poor kidney and liver function, which can affect how they metabolize the drug.
As a result of the new study, the authors recommend using electronic health records and better electronic decision-making tools to track patients’ medications and health histories. Additionally, these electronic systems could send doctors and pharmacists alerts if a prescribing medication carries a high risk of interacting with another medication a patient is currently taking.
As drug error lawyers at Kennedy Hodges, we want to bring attention to anything that could improve the safety of seniors’ drugs and reduce injuries and deaths that occur from medication errors. If you or someone you love was a victim of wrong medication, call Kennedy Hodges at 888-526-7616 for a complimentary consultation today. Also, get a FREE copy of our report How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.