Medical Professionals Online

Washington Times Examines Problems With Medications For Elderly Patients

June 19, 2017

The Washington Times on Tuesday examined how elderly patients often experience problems with dosages and improper combinations of medications. According to the Times, elderly patients "must go beyond the doctor's office to find out the proper doses and combinations to keep health issues at bay." Patricia Harris, director of geriatric education at the Washington Hospital Center, said, "In hospitals, there's a tendency to overmedicate the elderly," adding, "Some (patients) overmedicate themselves with over-the-counter medicine." Neil Resnick, chief of the division of geriatric medicine and professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, added that pharmaceutical companies do not conduct adequate research on the effect of new medications on elderly patients, who often do not participate in clinical trials. He said, "As a result, when the drug is approved, there's very little knowledge as to how that drug will work when given to a 75-year-old person taking eight to 10 other drugs." In addition, physicians often cannot determine whether elderly patients will experience adverse reactions from combinations of medications because of a lack of research, Resnick said. On average, elderly patients take between four and five medications daily, and those in nursing homes take as many as 12 daily. Physicians recommend that elderly patients maintain lists of their medications, ask more questions about treatments and research medications on the Internet to help prevent potential problems. Philip Bryant, a psychiatrist and medical director at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network, said, "We should have a cultural expectation that patients and their families be more aware. They need to be active (in the process)" (Toto, Washington Times, 6/13).

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