Some elderly are given inappropriate drugs

One in five elderly Americans filled prescriptions for drugs deemed inappropriate for older patients, according to a study of 1999 insurance claims reported on Monday.

Of the 765,000 patients 65 years or older included in the study, nearly 20 percent ordered two or three drugs “of concern,” wrote lead author Lesley Curtis of Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina.

The drugs that were commonly misprescribed included two antidepressants, amitriptyline and doxepin, according to the article published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

In an accompanying editorial, Knight Steel of Hackensack (New Jersey) University Medical Center called the rate of errors, even if exaggerated, “a significant failure in the American health care system.”

Steel suggested a computerized system would help pharmacists by drawing their attention to possibly inappropriate prescriptions or dosages.

SOURCE: Archives of Internal Medicine, August 9, 2004.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: June 20, 2011
Last revised: by Dave R. Roger, M.D.