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Use of potentially inappropriate medications in patients aged 65 and older continues to be widespread

Despite more than a decade of concern and consensus-based recommendations against the use of potentially inappropriate medications in the elderly, 29 percent of HMO enrollees aged 65 and older received at least 1 of 33 potentially inappropriate medications in 2000-2001. These medications have the potential to cause serious health problems in older patients. Five percent of these older HMO members received at least one of the 11 drugs that should always be avoided in people aged 65 and older, 13 percent received one of the eight medications classified as "rarely appropriate," and 17 percent received at least one of the 14 medications that have some indications for use but are often misused.

These findings are from a recent study that was supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality through the Centers for Education and Research on Therapeutics (CERTs) cooperative agreement (HS11843). Investigators from the HMO Research Network CERT analyzed pharmacy data for 157,517 elderly members from 10 geographically diverse HMOs. The researchers calculated the use of 33 potentially inappropriate medications from January, 2000 through June, 2001.

See "Potentially inappropriate medication use by elderly persons in U.S. health maintenance organizations, 2000-2001," by Steven R. Simon, M.D., M.P.H., K. Arnold Chan, M.D., Sc.D., Stephen B. Soumerai, Sc.D., and others, in the February 2005 Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 53, pp. 227-232.

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