Americans increasingly come into contact with powerful medicines that possess great potential both to heal tend to harm. Used correctly, prescribed medications and those purchased by consumers directly can be the single best means of staying healthy, getting better, and controlling chronic health problems. The right medication, in the right amount, administered in the right way, to the right patient can produce a “medical miracle.” For older patients with multiple diseases, properly managed pharmacotherapy can help them live longer and live better.
More than 200,000 people die each year from a Medication Related Problem and another 2.2 million are injured each year. Adverse drug reactions alone are between the fourth and sixth leading cause of death. Because of this, it is now believed that we have a “Silent Epidemic” in America.
So, what is a Medication Related Problem (MRP)? A MRP is an event or situation involving drug therapy that actually or potentially interferes with an optimum outcome for a specific person.
Medication Related Problems occur most often in older people and are generally more severe. Primarily because the physiological changes of aging increase the risk in the elderly population. Secondly, as a group, older people are more likely to suffer from multiple chronic diseases, requiring several different medications at one time. Other factors that place the elderly at risk include cognitive impairments that make it difficult or impossible to follow appropriately prescribed medication regimens, lack of a primary care-giver to help with meds, financial issues, problems with vision and comprehension of medication information. If you factor in that older people are more likely to suffer from hospitalization, or psychiatric problems, memory loss, hip fractures, automobile related injuries, cognitive impairment, combined with psychological, social, and care-giving needs, this results in a recipe for disaster! The Journal for the American Medical Association has stated that adverse drug events are among the top five greatest and most preventable threats to the elderly.
What can cause a MRP?