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Project cuts risky prescriptions among seniors

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Feb. 4, 2013

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A three-year quality-improvement initiative helped cut by 13% the rate of potentially inappropriate medication prescriptions among seniors. Drugs such as clonidine and amitriptyline are classified by the American Geriatrics Society as ones to avoid prescribing to patients 65 and older. Yet use of drugs on the society’s list is widespread, with research showing that as many as 41% of seniors are prescribed one or more of the medications.

The quality project, carried out by Parma, Italy, health professionals in collaboration with researchers at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, reduced risky drug ordering by offering 303 primary care physicians a list of medication substitutes, data on their incidence of inappropriate prescribing, and face-to-face detailing sessions with other doctors. The project spared 608 seniors from the potentially risky medications, said the study, published in February in Drugs and Aging (link).

The Parma project serves as a “proof of concept” that should be tried in the U.S., the study’s author said. Adverse drug events result in the emergency hospitalization of about 100,000 American seniors annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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