US News and World Report: Confusion Over Drug Dosing Common for Seniors

Standardized language on labels could simplify things, researchers say

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Feb. 28 (HealthDay News) — Instructions for taking medications are often so vague that older patients, sometimes taking an average of seven pills a day, may take their drugs incorrectly, a new study finds.
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Moreover, many patients don’t realize that they can take several medications at once. Standardized, simple instructions that will make dosing times easy to grasp are sorely needed, the researchers added.

“When given the task of taking multiple medications, people unnecessarily complicated the regimen,” said lead researcher Michael Wolf, an associate professor of medicine and learning sciences at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

Wolf noted that many older people are taking as many as seven different drugs a day. “People took medicine more times a day than they needed to,” he said.

The report is published in the Feb. 28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

For the study, Wolf’s team talked to 464 patients aged 55 to 74. Although most of the patients were well-educated, roughly half didn’t have strong “health literacy skills,” the researchers noted.

Health literacy is the ability to understand the information that patients are given about their health, the drugs they are supposed to take and their ability to perform skills related to their health, Wolf said.

“There have been studies over the past two decades that linked poor health literacy to poorer outcomes and worse mortality rates,” he said.

After giving patients a seven-drug regimen, they found that people were often taking drugs up to 14 times a day, Wolf said. “We are arguing they shouldn’t have taken them more than four times a day,” he noted.

Patients need to find the most efficient way of taking their drugs by consolidating their regimen, Wolf explained.

“We found that when people were given two medicines with the exact same instructions, a third of patients wouldn’t combine those medicines,” he said. “When one said take with food or water, half the patients wouldn’t combine those medicines.”

Moreover, when two medicines were to be taken every 12 hours, two out of three people wouldn’t combine them, Wolf said. “It may be that a lot of people have concerns that they can’t take these medicines together, that there may be a harmful interaction,” he said.

“We are not talking to patients about this,” Wolf said. “This is the number one cause of non-adherence in the United States, beyond cost.”

Read the full findings at US News and World Report at their website.

NEWS: Study Examines Prescribing of Antipsychotic Medications for Nursing Home Residents

Newswise — Older adults newly admitted to nursing homes with high rates of antipsychotic prescribing in the previous year are more likely to receive antipsychotic agents, according to a report in the January 11 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. Of these treated patients, some had no identified clinical indication for this therapy.

In 2007, almost one-third of U.S. nursing home residents received antipsychotic drugs, according to background information in the article. Safety concerns regarding their use are increasing; in 2005, the Food and Drug Administration issued warnings regarding the risk of death among older adults with dementia taking these agents to control behavioral symptoms. A large clinical trial recently concluded that the adverse effects of atypical antipsychotic drugs outweighed the benefits in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.


A Simple Cardboard Box Can Help Prevent Hospitalizations

Caring for an ill or disabled family member is stressful, especially the hassle of sorting and dispensing many medications.
Caring for an ill or disabled family member is stressful, especially the hassle of sorting and dispensing many medications.

You might think the headline is crazy. But it isn’t, and here’s why:
In the United States, 28% of all hospitalizations of people over the age of 65 happen because of adverse reactions to prescription drugs. And, 1.5 million Americans are sickened, injured or killed by errors prescribing, dispensing and taking medications – and seniors are the most susceptible.

However, DailyMed is a revolutionary medication-dispensing system that helps solve these serious issues.
How does DailyMed work? The system transfers prescriptions, over-the-counter medications and vitamins from a consumer’s present pharmacy and organizes them into pre-sorted packets, clearly marked with the date and time they should be taken. An entire 30-day supply of medications is conveniently delivered to a person’s home in a dispensing box (a simple, easy-to-handle box), simplifying medication managment for patients or their caregivers to ensure the right doses are taken at the right times.

Most medication-management systems are large machines that require a medical professional to fill, and might take an advanced degree to figure out. Seniors want simple solutions, not a large, complex piece of hardware.

DailyMed is filled by pharmacists, and shipped right to your door in easy-to-read packets.

For more information, contact DailyMed: Click Here.

Medication Stats:
1. Adverse drug reactions are the 4th-largest cause of death among the elderly.
2. Medication errors cost the U.S. healthcare system in excess of $177 billion.
3. Seniors make up 13% of the U.S. population, but take 40% of all prescription drugs.

From Caring Senior Service.