Diabetes Drugs, Blood Thinners Are Leading Cause of Adverse Medication Events

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There are nearly 100,000 emergency hospitalizations each year for adverse drug events that involve U.S. senior citizens, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Of the thousands of medications available to patients, a small group of blood thinners and diabetes medications caused two-thirds of the emergency hospitalizations, the report said.

The study used data collected from a nationally representative sample of 58 hospitals participating in CDC’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-Cooperative Adverse Drug Event Surveillance project.

Almost half (48.1 percent) of these hospitalizations occur among the elderly aged 80 years or older, and two-thirds (65.7 percent) of the hospitalizations were due to overdoses, or to situations in which patients may have taken the prescribed amount of medication but the drug had more than the intended effect on the patient’s body. Four medications, used alone or together, accounted for two-thirds of the emergency hospitalizations:

  • 33 percent, or 33,171 emergency hospitalizations, involved warfarin, a medication used to prevent blood clots.
  • 14 percent involved insulins. Insulin injections are used to control blood sugar in people who have diabetes.
  • 13 percent involved antiplatelet drugs, such as aspirin or clopidogrel, which prevent platelets, or pieces of blood cells from clumping together to start a clot.
  • 11 percent involved diabetes medications that are taken by mouth, called oral hypoglycemic agents.

Having someone check on you or your senior loved one could make you feel more at ease.  A Home Instead CAREGiverSM can provide personal care services including medication reminders and transportation to doctors’ appointments to help give you peace of mind.

CAREGivers from Home Instead Senior Care can make a difference in the lives of older adults and their families by providing support with activities of daily living to help keep them independent for as long as possible.  For more information about Home Instead Senior Care visit www.homeinstead.com/greaterpittsburgh or call 1-866-996-1087

More information about how to be better prepared for medical emergencies can be found at www.SeniorEmergencyKit.com. To learn more about this study, go to http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2011/p1123_elderly_risk.html.

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