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Four Drugs Linked to Two-Thirds of Medication-Related Emergency Hospitalizations

Posted 12/1/2011 Categories: heart health, medication management, side effects, coumadin, diabetes, hospitalizations, insulin, warfarin, chronic care

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just published a report finding that most drug-related emergency hospitalizations result from a few common medications, not those typically thought of as "high-risk" drugs. The four medications or medication classes that were most frequently linked to hospitalizations were:

  • Warfarin (also called Coumadin)
  • Insulin
  • Oral anti-clotting drugs
  • Oral hypoglycemic drugs for diabetics

Patient education and improved medication management are critically important to help prevent emergency hospitalizations. Sixty-five percent of these hospitalizations were the result of unintentional overdoses. It's easy to be confused and make a medication mistake: the average Medicare patient with a chronic condition (like diabetes or heart disease) fills over 20 prescriptions a year. And a patient with five or more chronic conditions (which includes 20% of the Medicare population) fills an average of 49 prescriptions per year.

If you or your loved one aren't sure what to do if you miss a dose of medicine or what side-effects to watch out for, be sure to talk with your home health nurse. They're trained to help you understand your medications and take them safely, and may have resources - like drug guides, medication trackers and pill boxes - to help you manage your medications. Or if you're not receiving home health care, be sure to talk with your doctor.

The study, Emergency Hospitalizations for Adverse Drug Events in Older Americans, was published on November 24 by the New England Journal of Medicine.

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