Currently, older adults account for 35% of all hospital stays, and more than half of those visits are marred by drug-related complications.1These complications add about 3 days to the average hospital stay. In 2006 the Institute of Medicine determined that at least 400,000 preventable “adverse drug events” occur each year in American hospitals. In 2006, such events, pushed health care costs up annually by about $3.5 billion dollars. In today’s economy that cost is estimated to be far higher.
Even if a drug doesn’t cause an adverse reaction, that doesn’t mean the patient necessarily needs it. A recent study of VA hospitals showed that 44% of elderly patients were given at least one unnecessary drug at discharge.2
Often, when doctors change or add to the list of medications that a patient is taking, the patients go home confused and uncertain about what to take. If the patient is suffering from dementia that can complicate the issue even further. It is important for family caregivers to stay on top of the medications that their loved ones are currently taking and to ask questions when confused or worried that over-medication may be occurring. Knowing symptoms to watch for can help you determine if you or your loved one may be overmedicated. Potential signs include:
- Physical complications, like dry mouth and ulcers
- Withdrawal from family or friends
- Dizziness or falls
If your loved one experiences these warning signs or any sudden changes in behavior, notify a doctor – even if you suspect that it is a side effect of a drug. If you need help managing medications call us today and ask about our Medication Management and Full-Life at Home services.
- National Action Plan for Adverse Drug Event Prevention
- Unnecessary Drug Use in Frail Older People at Hospital Discharge - Journal of the American Geriatrics Society