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An Alarming Trend: Overprescribing Dangerous Drugs To Seniors

On Behalf of | May 30, 2017 | Medical Malpractice

It is well known that some medications have side effects that can cause drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, and other adverse symptoms. This is why doctors have to be careful when prescribing medications to patients and check if the drug will interact with a patient’s current medications. And while some doctors do their due diligence, others hand out multiple prescriptions at a time—even mixing some dangerous medications.

According to a study in the Journal of the American Medication Association (JAMA), overprescribing medications to older adults is a growing concern. Although seniors do tend to have many health conditions for which they need medication, the data analyzed in this study raises a huge concern regarding the number of polypharmacy incidents.

What Is Polypharmacy?

Polypharmacy is defined as prescribing multiple medications—sometimes more medications than are necessary. It is a growing concern in the elderly as patients who use multiple medications may be at risk for dangerous drug interactions and side effects such as balance problems and confusion, which can lead to injuries.

The Increase in Polypharmacy

The study revealed that over a ten year period, from 2004 to 2013, the number of polypharmacy incidents more than doubled from 1.5 million to 3.68 million in seniors aged 65 and older. Some of the most common problems seniors complained of in order to receive multiple medications included anxiety, insomnia, depression, dementia, mental health, and pain. As a result, multiple medications prescribed to seniors increased.

Some types of medications that were commonly prescribed together included:

  • Antidepressants
  • Painkillers
  • Sleeping pills
  • Antipsychotics
  • Opioids
  • Benzodiazepines

What’s alarming is that many of these drugs are psychotropic drugs—meaning the medication can affect one’s mood, behavior, mind, and emotions. Because these drugs can affect the way the brain processes information, the study raises concerns regarding the amount of psychiatric medications taken by seniors. But sadly, many doctors continue to give out prescriptions for multiple drug combinations without warning their patients about the potential dangers.

Not only can overprescribing medications lead to falls, car crashes, and other personal injury accidents among seniors, but prescribing a dangerous combination of medication can even cause fatal injuries. If you suffered an injury or your loved one died as a result of a doctor overprescribing medication, medical negligence may be to blame and you may have a medical malpractice claim on your hands. Please start an online chat with us to discuss your particular case, and we’ll answer your questions and provide you with a free consultation.