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Study on Dangerous Drugs Prescribed for the Elderly: ‘Geography is Destiny

With age comes physical decline. By age 65, many Americans have one or more prescriptions. A recent study poses serious questions about the safety of medications prescribed to elderly Americans.

In April of this year, Brown University released a study of more than six million Medicare patients that made significant points about medication practices for the elderly in this country:

  • Medications like muscle relaxants, sedatives and other drugs react differently in an 80-year old body, leading to the possibility of dangerous side effects or drug interactions. The Brown study found at least one in five elderly Americans is receiving medication identified as risky for their age group.
  • Researchers found approximately 21 percent of seniors in the United States were prescribed inappropriate medication in 2009.
  • While Ohio seniors were 16 to 20 percent more likely to receive a dangerous prescription, residents of Albany, Georgia were more than 38 percent more inclined to receive a hazardous drug.
  • Without demographic difference, women and those with lower socio-economic status more often received dangerous medication.
  • The study did not attempt to answer the questions it raised. Study authors suggested prescription discrepancies could be caused by patient expectation and demand, chronic conditions experienced more frequently by women or lack of training with regard to geriatric prescription safety.

If you or an elderly loved one takes one or more medications, check with your healthcare provider about the possibility of dangerous medications or other side effects.

Medication mistakes are a common form of medical malpractice. While medications can be life-saving, they can also lead to disability and death when improperly prescribed. If concerned about unsafe medications, talk to your doctor, and then speak with an attorney with our firm.

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