The Antidote

Counterspin for Health Care and Health News

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Polypharmacy awareness


The New York Times today had an article by Jane Brody describing the phenomenon of polypharmacy: simply put, too many drugs, whether prescription, over-the-counter, or both. It's a particular problem in elderly patients, who suffer from multiple conditions, and who often see multiple doctors who don't know what other drugs patients are taking. Those drugs often interact, producing additional morbidity and even death.

Here are some sobering data describing the incidence of polypharmacy:
Polypharmacy is responsible for up to 28 percent of hospital admissions and, he added, if it were classified as such, it would be the fifth leading cause of death in the United States.
Polypharmacy can even occur when doctors do know what other doctors have prescribed, but are afraid to override other doctors' decisions. There's an increasingly useful role for consultant pharmacists, who, despite their superior training in identifying potential interactions, often come into conflict with physicians when they question prescriptions.

I'm glad, however, that the term "polypharmacy" is now out there in the New York Times. Increased awareness of polypharmacy is one way in which patients and their families can be better advocates for their own care. Changing the culture of medicine and reducing the fragmentation of health care to reduce risk of polypharmacy are, again, as we all know, different stories entirely.

1 Comments:

At 12:16 AM, Anonymous Brenda Turner said...

Thank you for blogging about Health Care! The growing number of uninsured, now at over 47 million, the high cost of insurance and the release of the 2008 presidential candidates health care plans have brought the topic of health care reform to national headlines and prime time news.



But what about the individual stories of American citizens facing a health care crises today? How do they navigate the broken health care system? At Outrageous Times.org we talk about the issues concerning individuals and small businesses. In addition to reporting on pending legislation and the record profits of pharmaceutical and insurance companies, we address the real life stories -- emergency room care, mental health issues, drug abuse, obesity, preexisting conditions and children's health. By letting our voices be heard-together we can find common sense solutions to reduce health care costs and increase access to quality health care for all.



Outrageous Times is our monthly grass roots newspaper, dedicated to health care reform now and is distributed to over 20,000 readers in Mercer County, WV and Tazewell County, VA. The web site www.OutrageousTimes.org is a both a local and national health care resource. We would like to invite you and your readers to submit your stories, experiences, observations and opinions to OutrageousTimes.org. Comments posted on OutrageousTimes.org are often reprinted in the Outrageous Times.



Thanks in advance for your contributing your knowledge to OutrageousTimes.org.

 

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