Doctors Prescribe The Wrong Meds For Seniors

How much protection do vaccines provide seniors? According to a study I posted a couple of weeks ago, the benefit was virtually nonexistent. A new study of seniors has discovered another not-so-shocking fact that can also harm their health: Almost 29 percent of the time, physicians write prescriptions for medications considered potentially inappropriate for them.

Even worse, seniors were prescribed one of 11 drugs medical experts recommend they should avoid in 5 percent of the cases researchers reviewed!

Over 18 months, scientists tracked the use of 33 drugs judged inappropriate based on a subset of the Beers Criteria (a standard for drugs seniors should avoid) on some 157,000 people over age 65. The drugs were classified in three categories, ranging from "might have some indications" to "rarely appropriate" to "always avoid." By the numbers:

  • 28.8 percent received an inappropriate prescription.
  • 5 percent were prescribed an "always avoid" drug.
  • 13 percent got a drug that was "rarely appropriate."
  • Women were more likely to receive an inappropriate prescription (32.4 percent) from their physicians than men (who didn't visit their doctors as often).
  • 1 percent received belladonna alkaloids, hyoscyamine and dicyclomine, antispasmodic drugs that have been classified as always inappropriate for older patients.

Prescribing drugs are clearly not the answer to every health aliment. At best, drugs act as temporary "Band-Aids" that buy time while searching for and addressing the real cause of the disease. It has never ceased to amaze me how the older people get, the more drugs their doctors prescribe them.

This inevitable progression is rooted deeply in the "traditional" and broken drug paradigm. As one gets older and his or her system begins to break down, the traditional solution is to offer them more drugs.

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society Volume 53 Issue 2 Page 227, February 2005

Yahoo News February 25, 2005

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