Polypharmacy in Geriatrics: Death by Medicine Essay

Polypharmacy in Geriatrics: Death by Medicine Essay

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Polypharmacy in Geriatrics
“Death by medicine is a twenty-first century epidemic, and America’s war on drugs is clearly directed at the wrong enemy,” (White, 2013). This is a startling reality, especially in the complex nature of medicinal management and drug interactions. The term polypharmacy, or the utilization of several medications, is recognizable as an ever-increasing and considerable problem in our current healthcare system. Although the term “polypharmacy” is used frequently, definitions of the word may vary significantly. Many descriptions have been noted, including: medications not matching diagnosis, numerous medications, duplicate medications, drug to drug interactions, and excessive duration of use. Some explanations of polypharmacy place significance on the quantity of concurrent medications, with the most universally mentioned number being six or more (Robert-Ebadi, Le Gal, & Righini, 2009). Regardless of the definition of polypharmacy, one question remains prominent; how can prescribers more effectively weigh the risks and benefits of additional pharmacologic interventions to reduce concerns associated with polypharmacy, specifically in the geriatric population?
The United States General Accounting Office reveals that significant mortality and morbidity is associated with inappropriate use of prescription drugs. Additionally, polypharmacy is acknowledged as a costly habit; the United States Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services calculates that polypharmacy costs the nation’s health plans over fifty billion dollars each year (Robert-Ebadi, 2009). Although the risk potentials of polypharmacy are unmistakable, coincidentally, so are the benefits to patients when medication therapies are combined to treat...


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...hini, M. (2009, May 14). Use of anticoagulants in elderly patients: practical recommendations. Retrieved November 11, 2013, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2685237/
Sottosanti , M. (2005, September 10). Alternative Medicine and the Elderly - Yahoo Voices - voices.yahoo.com. Retrieved November 11, 2013, from http://voices.yahoo.com/alternative-medicine-elderly-6153.html?cat=5
Upinder, S. (2010, January). Geriatric Polypharmacy Guidelines. Retrieved February 26, 2014, from http://www.healthplanofnevada.com/documents/provider%20files/Polypharmacy%20Guideline%20Jan%202010%20final.pd
White, S. (2013, May 7). Prescription Drugs Kill Over 100,000 People Each Year, Are You Being Medicated Incorrectly? | Collective-Evolution. Retrieved February 26, 2014, from http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/05/07/death-by-prescription-drugs-is-a-growing-problem/

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