CDC: Elderly patients at risk of emergency hospitalizations from blood thinners, diabetes medications

Agency says four drugs account for two-thirds of hospitalizations

ATLANTA — Many elderly patients put themselves at risk for emergency hospitalization due to adverse drug events, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Nearly 100,000 emergency hospitalizations were reported among U.S. adults ages 65 years and older, according to data collected between 2007 and 2009 from a nationally representative sample of 58 hospitals participating in the CDC′s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-Cooperative Adverse Drug Event Surveillance project. The study also found that four medications, used alone or together, accounted for two-thirds of the emergency hospitalizations: wafarin (used to prevent blood clots), insulin, antiplatelet drugs and diabetes drugs called oral hypoglycemic agents.

The study also found that 48.1% of the hospitalizations occurred among adults ages 80 years or older, and 65.7% of the hospitalizations 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," the CDC said.

“These data suggest that focusing safety initiatives on a few medicines that commonly cause serious, measurable harms can improve care for many older Americans,” CDC′s Medication Safety Program director Dan Budnitz said. “Blood thinners and diabetes medicines often require blood testing and dosing changes, but these are critical medicines for older adults with certain medical conditions. Doctors and patients should continue to use these medications but remember to work together to safely manage them.”


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