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Seniors Receiving Home Healthcare More Likely to Be Taking Multiple Unsafe Medications

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As we age, many of us will begin to take more and more medications. However, if a doctor isn’t closely monitoring the various medications, this could spell trouble as far as the potential for dangerous drug interactions. Additionally, some medications may simply be inappropriate or downright unsafe if they aren’t prescribed by the right person. A recent study supports these arguments and found that seniors who receive services from a home healthcare agency are three times more likely to be taking ineffective or unsafe drugs compared to seniors who get their medications from a medical doctor’s office.

For the study, the researchers looked at a total of 3,100 home healthcare patients age 65 or older who were included in the 2007 National Home and Hospice Care Survey. Overall, they found that these patients take an average of 11 different medications and that the presence of so many drugs was a good indicator for the use of inappropriate or unsafe drug use. In fact, the researchers also found that 38% of the patients were taking at least one inappropriate drug.

The risk of taking an inappropriate or unsafe medications increased even more for patients taking 15 or more medications, as they were 5 to 6 times more likely to be doing so compared to those patients taking 7 or fewer drugs. The researchers noted that patients receiving home healthcare are likely prescribed medications by several doctors, which makes it difficult for someone, such as home healthcare nurse, to monitor the various drugs for potential danger. However, they note that the problem could be relieved by having a medical professional enter patients’ homes regularly to do a proper medication review and reconciliation.