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The Elderly in the United States are at High Risk for Prescription Errors

The problem of doctors prescribing too many, too few or conflicting medications to seniors is well known. However, the full extent of the problem was unknown until the release of a Brown University study showed 21 percent of elderly patients across the country are taking medications deemed risky.

Researchers looked at six million prescription records for elderly patients with Medicare Advantage coverage. Comparing prescriptions against a list of drugs known to be dangerous for elderly patients, the study authors came to the following conclusions:

  • More than one of every five seniors in the South were prescribed a medication known to be dangerous for their health in 2009. These harmful medications typically included drugs for depression, diabetes or anxiety. While these drugs are suitable for younger patients, the metabolism and physiology of older humans put them at risk from adverse effects of the drugs.
  • Factors that increase the likelihood of receiving one or more high-risk prescriptions include being a woman, being poor and living in the south.
  • Researchers were at a loss to explain why residents of an area between Texas and South Carolina were 10% more at risk of receiving a dangerous medication than seniors living in New England states.
  • Seniors living in Albany, Georgia, were at the highest risk for being prescribed inappropriate medications. Alexandria, Louisiana, patients were most likely to receive two high-risk medications and elderly Medicare patients living in Worcester, Massachusetts, and Mason City, Iowa, were least likely to be prescribed a drug potentially dangerous to their health.

Growing older is hard enough without your doctor prescribing the wrong medications. If you were injured through a medication mistake in North Carolina, seek experienced legal advice.

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