facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Unexpected Drugs Bring Seniors to ER

Failures to administer and monitor drugs properly have a heavy human cost.

Image: 

Inadequate monitoring causes many visits.
Thinkstock

By Jed Bickman

12/02/11

| Share

Most drug-induced visits to emergency rooms by seniors aren't caused by addictive or dangerous meds like painkillers, but by more prosaic drugs like diabetes pills and blood thinners, a new study shows. Two thirds of all the hospitalizations in the study were the result of overdoses, but not the kind of ODs you’d expect: painkillers and other medications deemed “high-risk” were only implicated in 1.2% of cases. The study didn't cover hospital visits caused by drug abuse, withdrawal, or deliberate self-harm; it focused only on avoidable, unintentional hospitalizations. These typically occurred because meds were being administered improperly, or because doctors weren't adequately monitoring them. For example, blood thinners like Warfarin are effective at preventing strokes and have other benefits; but when doctors fail to monitor the dosage, it causes hemorrhaging. As life expectancy increases and the population ages, this problem will grow. The study found that 40% of seniors take between five and nine medications—and 18% were on at least ten drugs. Each one needs to be properly monitored, and interactions between drugs can cause a raft of unexpected harms. The report shows that millions of dollars could be saved by a campaign of preventative education, and the federal government is working with the study’s authors to produce such a program. 

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
Sober Living
A Man—With an Eating Disorder

When I tell people I have an eating disorder, I get surprise, sympathy, empathy and laughing-shock: "Men can have eating disorders?”

The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu
 
 
 
 

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery
 
 
 
 

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center
 
 
 
 

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 

Reflections
 
 
 
 

This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab
 
 
 
 
 

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv