Often seniors take multiple medications daily that in some cases have been prescribed by a couple of different doctors for different conditions. In addition they may also be taking over-the-counter (OTC) medications. All of this can lead to problems with drug interactions and side effects that range from mild to severe including death.
In a recent report by the US News & World Report, it cites statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that suggest each year there are four visits to the ER per 1,000 adults attributed to adverse drug effects. First published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, statistics find that almost 60 percent of Americans take at “least one prescription drug, and nearly 20 percent are taking more than five prescriptions medicines.” The study also looked at OTC medications and warns that there is a huge potential for “side effects, drug-drug interactions and negative outcomes.” It also states that for the elderly, the possibility of dangerous drug interactions is even greater.
One of the most important things that a patient or family member can do to reduce the likelihood of this happening is to communicate with all of your health care providers about the prescription and OTC medications that you take. It is a good idea, especially if you take more than one medications, to write down the names of the drugs and the amount you take each day and carry it in your wallet. You can also take a picture of the list of medications with your cell phone so you always have it handy. Another tip is to fill your prescriptions at the same drug store and to build a relationship with the pharmacist as he or she can help to spot potential problems involving drug interactions.
Annually review the need for each medication with your health care provider and discuss how long you will need to take the drug. Lastly be sure to check each new prescription container for accuracy as pharmacies sometimes do make mistakes.
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