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Am J Geriatr Pharmacother. 2011 Feb;9(1):1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.amjopharm.2011.01.003.

Year in review: medication mishaps in the elderly.

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  • 1Division of Geriatric Medicine, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

This paper reviews articles from 2010 that examined medication mishaps (ie, medication errors and adverse drug events [ADEs]) in the elderly.

METHODS:

The MEDLINE and EMBASE databases were searched for English-language articles published in 2010 using a combination of search terms including medication errors, medication adherence, medication compliance, suboptimal prescribing, monitoring, adverse drug events, adverse drug withdrawal events, therapeutic failures, and aged. A manual search of the reference lists of the identified articles and the authors' article files, book chapters, and recent reviews was conducted to identify additional publications. Five studies of note were selected for annotation and critique. From the literature search, this paper also generated a selected bibliography of manuscripts published in 2010 (excluding those previously published in the American Journal of Geriatric Pharmacotherapy or by one of the authors) that address various types of medication errors and ADEs in the elderly.

RESULTS:

Three studies focused on types of medication errors. One study examined underuse (due to prescribing) as a type of medication error. This before-and-after study from the Netherlands reported that those who received comprehensive geriatric assessments had a reduction in the rate of undertreatment of chronic conditions by over one third (from 32.9% to 22.3%, P < 0.05). A second study focused on reducing medication errors due to the prescribing of potentially inappropriate medications. This quasi-experimental study found that a computerized provider order entry clinical decision support system decreased the number of potentially inappropriate medications ordered for patients ≥ 65 years of age who were hospitalized (11.56 before to 9.94 orders per day after, P < 0.001). The third medication error study was a cross-sectional phone survey of managed-care elders, which found that more blacks than whites had low antihypertensive medication adherence as per a self-reported measure (18.4% vs 12.3%, respectively; P < 0.001). Moreover, blacks used more complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) than whites for the treatment of hypertension (30.5% vs 24.7%, respectively; P = 0.005). In multivariable analyses stratified by race, blacks who used CAM were more likely than those who did not to have low antihypertensive medication adherence (prevalence rate ratio = 1.56; 95% CI, 1.14-2.15; P = 0.006). The remaining two studies addressed some form of medication-related adverse patient events. A case-control study of Medicare Advantage patients revealed for the first time that the use of skeletal muscle relaxants was associated significantly with an increased fracture risk (adjusted odds ratio = 1.40; 95% CI, 1.15-1.72; P < 0.001). This increased risk was even more pronounced with the concomitant use of benzodiazepines. Finally, a randomized controlled trial across 16 centers in France used a 1-week educational intervention about high-risk medications and ADEs directed at rehabilitation health care teams. Results indicated that the rate of ADEs in the intervention group was lower than that in the usual care group (22% vs 36%, respectively, P = 0.004).

CONCLUSION:

Information from these studies may advance health professionals' understanding of medication errors and ADEs and may help guide research and clinical practices in years to come.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier HS Journals, Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID:
21459304
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3457784
Free PMC Article
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