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Caring for Elderly Loved Ones: Be Aware of Medications


With age come infirmities and medical issues. Along with those issues come prescriptions. And sometimes those prescriptions are for dangerous drugs.

In a study focused on medication prescribed to six million elderly Medicare Advantage patients, Brown University researchers found a startling 21 percent were prescribed medications considered dangerous by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).

The NCQA maintains a list of medications considered to be high-risk for the elderly. While drugs found on the list are commonly prescribed to younger adults, physiologic and metabolic changes make those drugs dangerous to the elderly.

  • While the study illustrates the problem of seniors improperly prescribed high-risk drugs, it also highlights an unexplained result that more dangerous drugs are dispensed to elderly patients in the southern United States. Patients from areas in Texas to South Carolina had a 12 percent higher risk of receiving inappropriate medications than patients in the north.
  • Possibly correlated with lower socioeconomic status, the study authors also wondered if the elderly are requesting — and receiving — medications that are identified as risky for their age group.

In our personal injury practice we represent clients and their family members injured by prescription drugs and through nursing home abuse and neglect. Polypharmia is a term that describes seniors who are prescribed more medications than needed. Medication error added to polypharmia makes a deadly combination for the elderly.

Always understand the medications you are prescribed and that are prescribed for your loved ones. If you suffer injury from a medication error including prescription of dangerous drugs, seek experienced legal advice from a personal injury lawyer.