The Dangers of Polypharmacy


Elite Concierge Nursing Services of Naples

Posted on

Mar 06, 2023


Florida - Southwest

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), polypharmacy is defined as the use of 5 or more medications. Polypharmacy increases the risk of adverse drug reactions, and it can also increase the risk of misdiagnosed symptoms of other medical events which can lead to additional medications being prescribed. This is called prescription cascade, and it can have negative effects on patients. 

The sobering statistics according to the CDC, 83% of adults in their 60s and 70s reported using at least one prescription drug in the previous 30 days and about one-third used five or more. Patients who take five to nine medications have a 50% chance of an adverse drug interaction, and Polypharmacy accounts for almost 30% of all hospital admissions and is the fifth leading cause of U.S. deaths.

Despite the efforts of many older adults to follow their medication regimens, they still tend to fail to take their medicine as prescribed. This is due to various factors such as forgetfulness, confusion, and lack of understanding. In some cases, a doctor may suggest reducing the dosage of a medication by half. However, this method can be very challenging for people with poor dexterity and vision.

We often think of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs as harmless, when in reality they can be dangerous when taken incorrectly or for too long. Drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and Acetaminophen, can contribute to adverse reactions in the elderly. Other popular drugs that can cause adverse reactions are blood thinners like, Eliquis/apixaban, Coumadin/Warfarin, Xarelto/rivaroxaban, or Brulinta/ticagrelor among others, when taken incorrectly can cause bleeding which can lead to other health problems. 

Despite the alarming statistics, there are some things patients can do to feel safer around taking multiple medications. 

1. Hire a Licensed Nurse: Licensed Nurses have a unique opportunity to help identify patients at risk for inappropriate polypharmacy and to educate patients and families about risk reduction. Licensed Nurses can come into your home and provide education, medication management, and coordinate care in an effort to decrease hospital admissions and keep patients home and independent as long as possible. 

2. Selecting a geriatrician: Meet with a few physicians to find one you feel will listen to your concerns. 

3. Get an annual medication review: Bring all your medications in their original containers, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, herbal supplements, cannabis, etc.

Lastly, healthcare practitioners should continue to evaluate and re-evaluate the effectiveness of patient's medication to minimize side effects and improve their outcomes. This process involves assessing the individual's health goals and the risks associated with each medication. It helps patients make informed decisions and improve their lives. Healthcare providers have a responsibility to reduce the harmful effects of medications on the health of our patients. 

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Elite Concierge Nursing Services of Naples

Nursing Services/Care 12632 Tamiami Trail East, Naples, Florida, 34113

At Elite Concierge Nursing Services of Naples, LLC, we provide private elder care nursing services after surgery (cosmetic, orthopedic, cardiac, or general surgery) wound and drain care, as well as coordination of care/case management in the form of weekly wellness checks with the goal of keeping clients out of the hospital long term. We also offer Transportation and Monitoring after certain outpatient procedures. At Elite we believe quality care and proper education are key components of healing that have a positive impact on overall wellness.  We empower and support you along your personal healing journey through quality care, holistic wellness coaching, education, and recovery care services.