J Korean Geriatr Soc.  2012 Sep;16(3):133-140.

Polypharmacy in Older Patients Admitted to a General Hospital

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Family Medicine, Hallym University Hangang Sacred Heart Hospital, Seoul, Korea. lull@hallym.ac.kr
  • 2Department of Family Medicine, Hallym University College of Medicine, Chuncheon, Korea.

Abstract

BACKGROUND
The elderly population is rapidly growing in numbers in Korea. According to the high prevalence of chronic disease in older persons, the issue of polypharmacy becomes one of the main problems in geriatric care. In this study, we tried to investigate the current status of inappropriate multiple drug prescriptions in older patients who were admitted to general hospital.
METHODS
From July 1st 2010 to July 31th 2010, a total of 163 patients of 65 years of age or over who were admitted to one general hospital were investigated. Subjects were examined with a structured questionnaire survey. They were reviewed with medical records, and all medications taken by patients were analyzed. Inappropriate prescriptions were evaluated by Beers criteria and drug-drug interactions guidelines.
RESULTS
Among the 163 participants, 146 patients took daily medication in the previous week, and the average numbers of pills taken by these patients were 7.95. 24 cases (16.4%) of inappropriate prescriptions were identified by Beers criteria, and 19 cases (13.0%) manifested a potential risk for drug-drug interaction. A total 7 cases (4.8%) of overlapping prescription of similar efficacy were also identified. Also, the risk of inappropriate prescription increased, when older patients visited 2 or more physicians (p<0.01).
CONCLUSION
A considerable number of cases of prescriptions probable to cause adverse events in older patients were identified, which suggests physicians need to be thoughtful and alert for the harmful effects of polypharmacy, and the necessity of a well-structured drug monitoring system for older persons. A dedicated personal physician system for older patients should also be considered, to reduce inappropriate prescriptions.

Keyword

Elderly; Polypharmacy; Drug interaction; Beers criteria
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