CDC: Key Medications at Center of Adverse Medication Errors for Elderly

Each year, there are nearly 100,000 emergency hospitalizations for adverse drug events in elderly patients, and a small group of blood thinners and diabetes medications cause two-thirds of those emergency hospitalizations, according to research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC collected 2007-2009 data from its National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-Cooperative Adverse Drug Event Surveillance project. Nearly half (48.1 percent) of hospitalizations stemming from adverse drug events occurred among adults aged 80 years or older. Of these, two-thirds (65.7 percent) 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.


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Four medications, used alone or together, accounted for two-thirds of the emergency hospitalizations: warfarin, insulin, antiplatelet drugs and diabetes medications that are taken by mouth.

Notably, CDC scientists found medications currently identified by national quality measures as being "high-risk" or "potentially inappropriate for older patients" were rarely identified as the cause of emergency hospitalizations (1.2 percent and fewer than 6.6 percent, respectively).  

Related Articles on Medication Safety:

Indiana State Report Reveals Pressure Ulcers Top List of Hospital-Acquired Conditions in 2010

FDA: Safety Labeling Changes Made to Prescribing Information for 48 Products in October

Commentary: Anesthesiologists Should Take Active Role in Drug Safety, Shortages

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