Federal Study Uncovers Risky Prescribing for America's Seniors

Ken Rankin
Published Online: Thursday, April 1, 2004

Elderly Americans are running a 1-in-12 risk of being prescribed dangerously inappropriate drugs, according to new data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The research, the results of which were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, reviewed the medications prescribed to seniors during more than 16 million doctor visits and concluded that drugs particularly dangerous to senior citizens were prescribed for them about 8% of the time.

Among other findings, the researchers discovered that pain relievers, sedatives, and antidepressants were prescribed for the elderly even though experts in geriatric medicine and pharmacology warn that these medicines can cause delirium, falls, blurry vision, and oversedation among seniors. The elderly are particularly at risk of being prescribed a risky therapy if they are taking more than 1 medication, and women are twice as likely as men to be given a dangerous drug, the study authors concluded.

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