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Nursing Home Residents Often Fatally Overmedicated

One of the most popular articles on my Web site is the multi-part series, Modern Health Care System is the Leading Cause of Death, I ran last summer. It placed the breakdown of our health care system in part on the shoulders of doctors who largely prescribe far too many unnecessary medicines and procedures. New research that tracked the number of recent nursing home fatalities underscores those concerns.

Residents who were treated with drugs for common problems -- arthritis, depression or sinus trouble -- for three months were about 90 PERCENT more likely to die by the end of that time than patients who took NO DRUGS AT ALL! And 80 percent of residents who took unnecessary medications over two months increased their chances of being hospitalized by 80 PERCENT in the third month.

Crucial facts that, no doubt, will affect the health of your family and friends who live in a nursing home:

  • Previous studies on patients older than 64 who live in a nursing home a minimum of three months found residents will be given at least ONE inappropriate drug during that time!
  • Because the side effects of common prescribed medicine in nursing homes like Darvon (pain), Elavil (depression), Digoxin (heart problems) and Endal (antihistamine) can affect an elderly patient's balance and mental acuity, falls and other health issues are more common.
  • Elderly patients whose organs and tissues absorb and eliminate medications far more slowly can have problems with drug toxicity, a deadly consequence due to the lack of drug trials for that age group.

    Archives of Internal Medicine Vol. 165 No. 1, January 10, 2005

    Yahoo News January 17, 2005

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