Elderly Often Prescribed Improper Medications, CDC Study Finds
Elderly U.S. patients are prescribed improper medications in about one out of every 12 physician visits, according to a CDC study published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports. The study, which examined patient data from hospital outpatient departments and physician offices from 1995 to 2000, found that elderly patients were prescribed improper medications about 8% of the time, or in an estimated 16.7 million physician visits. According to the study, physicians were more likely to prescribe improper medications when they prescribed more than one treatment. The study also found that physicians were two times as likely to prescribe improper medications to women than to men. Researchers could not determine the cause of the problem, but past federal studies have cited a lack of communication between physicians and pharmacists, failure to provide elderly patients with proper instructions on medications and inadequate medical education on the treatment of elderly patients. "This is a sizable problem," Diane Makuc, a CDC statistician, said, adding, "Hopefully these results will encourage health care plans, drug companies, physicians and patients to all look at this issue more carefully" (Yee, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 2/9). An abstract of the study is available online.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.