I highly suggest taking a look at the New York Time’s recent “Well” column, Four Drugs Cause Most Hospitalizations in Older Adults, as a real wake up call for medical facilities— such as nursing homes— to do a better job monitoring the effectiveness in their patients.
The article has some interesting / concerning information concerning commonly prescribed medications that account for a staggering number of hospitalizations in the elderly every year. An amazing 66% of emergency hospitalizations in the elderly are related to adverse reactions such as accidental overdoses of:
- Warfarin / Coumadin- a blood thinner
- Insulin injections- to control blood sugar
- Aspirin and other anti-platelet drugs
- Oral diabetes drugs
The primary reason behind the high rate of complications is believed to be due to the fact that the medications have a specific therapeutic index– a range in which the drug is effective, yet not hazardous.
Medical professionals caring for elderly patients on these medications need to be mindful of these complications and incorporate safeguards such as getting feedback from the patient as to how they are feeling as well as getting regular blood work done to determine the drugs effectiveness.
As this article points out, most of these drugs are considered relatively ‘safe’ compared to drugs like narcotics— yet they have a much higher rate of hospitalizations.
Hopefully this information will make its way to the medical professionals caring for elderly patients in nursing homes and hospitals and facilities will re-dedicate themselves to safely administering these drugs at their facilities.