Reactions of drugs create problems
About 45 percent of the veterans in the sample took medications.Unexpected drug reactions land thousands of older veterans in hospitals every year, but a new study suggests many of those hospital stays could be prevented.
Looking at a sample of 678 veterans over age 65 admitted to hospitals under the care of Veterans Affairs (VA) between October 2003 and 2006, researchers estimated that 10 percent of the group’s unplanned hospital stays were due to an unexpected drug reaction. Of those, almost 37 percent might have been prevented.
Lead author Zachary Marcum, of the University of Pittsburgh’s Division of Geriatric Medicine, told Reuters Health that the new findings will help those involved in ordering, dispensing and overseeing medicine to prevent unneeded and costly hospitalizations.
Estimating that 8,000 hospital stays could have been prevented throughout the VA’s system, the researchers determined the unexpected drug reactions cost the VA over $110 million during the study period.
As for what caused the reactions, they found that more than half were due to patients not being prescribed the proper drugs. Another 30 percent of reactions were caused by the patient not following instructions, and 10 percent were attributed to a failure to monitor the patient’s use of the drugs.